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SC investigation into banning of sex crime videos hits a roadblock

In its hearing on the case regarding rape videos on the net, in which a letter sent by anti-trafficking organization Prajwala was converted into a suo motu criminal writ petition by the Supreme Court, the two-judge bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and UU Lalit heard the representation by Google on February 21.

The court has been directing the Union government to take necessary steps against cyber crimes against women and children. Thereafter, the Ministry of Home Affairs had set up a committee to look into the issues related to cyber crimes and suggest a roadmap for effectively tackling cyber crimes in the country and giving suitable recommendations on all facets of cybercrime.

The court directed that the schemes along with a copy thereof with the final decision taken on publishing a National Sex Offenders List as well as the progress with regard to the Investigative Units For Crime Against Women (IUCAW) be filed.

On December 5, 2016, the court had issued a notice to Microsoft Corporation India, Google India, Yahoo India and Facebook to reply to the suggestions.

At the last hearing, two suggestions were put forth.

When the court suggested that a central institutional mechanism be formed, the government had submitted that it already had in place the CCPWC to check cyber crimes. The petitioner suggested that investigation should be on the basis of complaint as well as suo motu.

Another suggestion that had come up was that in the West they use something called the Unblocking method. In this, the video and pictures are blocked at the entry point itself and the person who uploaded it has to approach the service provider to unblock. Blocking at the entry point is done on the basis of certain keywords.

Yahoo, Google India, Facebook Microsoft India are to get instructions on the above and file affidavits within two weeks.

On February 21, Google submitted: “If the objectionable content is provided to us we will be able to block it or take down from the site. But it is neither humanly nor technologically possible to keep a watch on lakhs of videos uploaded on an hourly basis. We, as an internet provider, have limitations.

“We are only a search engine. We will take it off from our search, but the actual site will continue to show the clip. We are the major search engine but there are other search engines as well,” the counsel for Google submitted.

He added: “If we are asked to block a particular person’s speech, we can identify who is the person is and can identify what time he will give his speech, but who will upload it can be identified only when it is uploaded and not before that.”

That leaves the situation pretty uncertain so far. The hearings will continue.

By India Legal News Bureau

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