Crime
Law enforcement agencies need to be sensitised about how to respond and investigate, while the judicial system also has to be empowered.
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The demand for child porn is steadily increasing in India and since India is a developing digital economy, lot of work still needs to be done, cyber experts said.  

"Technology, in all senses, has capacitated everybody but it has also brought in an angle of abuse. When children or women are in the picture, a lot of exploitation happens through this technology. In a sense, there is a huge demand for child sexual abuse material. How this proliferates is through end-to-end encryption or the dark web. Now, technology has enabled it," says Nitish Chandan, a project manager at Cyber Peace Foundation.

Nitish was representing the foundation at a two-day workshop called ‘Choke The Demand’, where over 100 senior personnel from the Hyderabad City Police were present.

The workshop, organised by Change.org, Changemantras and The News Minute at the Plaza Hotel in Begumpet, sought to address the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

"One very big component is that through these end-to-end encrypted services and through the deep web, children are being trafficked. Solicitation is done online and pictures are put up online with the rates of each child," Nitish said.

"Sometimes, children are forced to take pictures and videos and generate the child pornography themselves and then they are asked to send it to the perpetrator, who, in turn, sells it for a huge value across the world," he added.

During their research, Nitish says that it was also found that the demand for child sexual abuse material of Asian children was higher as opposed to the rest of the world.

"India, being a developing digital economy, 34% of our population is using the Internet but the rate of cyber crimes is ahead of its time. In the same context, China is number one in cybercrime but they have around 78% of the population using the internet," he said.

"In the coming years, it is going to be more of a challenge and the only way ahead is capacity building at all ends. We are looking at building awareness among victims on how to report such crimes," he adds, citing a central cybercrime reporting portal which has been created by the Ministry of Home Affairs, specifically to tackle children and rape videos.

Nitish contends that law enforcement agencies need to be sensitised about how to respond and investigate, while the judicial system also has to be empowered.

"In terms of policy, there are many challenges. For example, revenge pornography is quite common. There are traditional laws in place that we use. However, we don't have a specific law that talks about revenge pornography," he says.

"The legislative process has to bring in certain things, criminalise certain acts and talk about certain procedures. Law enforcement officers have Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for most things but where cybercrime is concerned, there is a lacuna. For example, only an Inspector can investigate a cyber crime under the IT Act. These are certain policy level challenges that need to be tackled by the government," he added.

Speaking about the foundation, Nitish said, "Cyber Peace Foundation is a policy think tank working specifically in the areas of cyber safety, security, user awareness, data security, data protection and data privacy, among others," Nitish said.

"On the ground, we are conducting awareness programmes. We are working with women on digital literacy and also with law enforcement agencies to train them on how to investigate cyber crimes," he added.

Nitish also said that the foundation works with governments as well, on framing policies.

"Apart from that, we are holding multi-stakeholder conferences, events and consultations across the country. We also have a range of publications. We have a specific journal on cyber forensics in India; the first of its kind," he said.

"We leverage technology in an interesting way. We have a helpline that runs on WhatsApp where people report cases ranging from revenge pornography to financial cyber crimes. We do 70-80 cases every day," he added.