Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ministry Of Home Affairs Would Scrutinise Online Contents

Foreign websites and social media platforms are defending themselves in India under the cyber law of India. In fact, the cyber law due diligence and social media due diligence have emerged as the perspective cyber law trends of India in 2012. Clearly, foreign companies and websites must keep in mind the conflict of laws across the world that they have to adhere to.

Although cyberspace is not a safe place for any person yet children are more vulnerable to the evils of cyber crimes. Protecting children in cyberspace is of utmost importance. Realising this requirement, the home ministry of India would scrutinise social networking sites for the risks they may pose before children. Home ministry plans to monitor social networking sites that host obscene material that induces children to sexually explicit acts or crimes.

In fact, the home ministry has communicated to other states that it is essential to monitor and regulate various websites, including social networking websites, and to train teachers, cyber café owners and parents on deploying parental control software to mitigate spoofing of age, gender and identity.

B Bhamathi, additional secretary at the home ministry has issued a letter to all state police chiefs and chief secretaries and has directed that in appropriate cases, the police should request social networking sites to remove undesirable contents. Bhamathi has also suggested that police officers must act as undercover agents to identify internet criminals and apprehend them to safeguard children’s interests.

According to Praveen Dalal, managing partner of law firm Perry4Law and leading techno legal cyber law expert of Asia, if Websites are “Violating” Laws of India and they have been “Notified” to this effect and still they “do not Remedy the Situation”, then the Safe Harbour Protection under Indian Information Technology Act, 2000 is “Lost” and such Websites/Owners can be Prosecuted in India.

Thus, social networking websites that are duly notified by police officers in India are required to take down contents that are detrimental to children and may pose threat to them. If these social media websites refuse to or fail to do so, they may be prosecuted in India.

This is a reasonable step on the part of home ministry as cases of child pornography, online harassment, cyber stalking and cyber bullying are increasing world over. In fact, recently Interpol helped India to track child porn surfers in Kerala. Clearly the grip of Indian cyber law is tightening upon websites and social media platforms and they cannot afford to ignore cyber law due diligence any more.