FB, Google told to clear stand on removing child pornography


On plea by woman whose photos were circulated online, High Court says efforts should be made to remove them permanently

The Delhi High Court has asked the Centre and Internet majors such as Google and Facebook to submit their stand on removing “offending images” of children and preventing them from resurfacing.

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The court’s order came while hearing a plea by a woman who wanted removal of her objectionable photographs, which were allegedly taken when she was a minor.

Her plea stated that at that time, she was studying in a well-known school.

She said, now that she is a 21-year-old, she is highly distressed by the photographs and clips being published on the Internet.

49 URLs

Since the plea was filed in July this year, Google, which owns Youtube; and Facebook, which owns Instagram, have removed around 49 URLs — shared by the enforcement agencies — of the offending contents.

However, the court wanted answers on the vexed issue of how content can be blocked permanently from resurfacing once it is identified as “offending”.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru said while enforcement agencies will report the image to Facebook and Google as an when it resurfaces, the problem was that “somebody has to keep monitoring it”.

The court’s query came after the status report filed by the Delhi government stated that further URLs containing the offending images/ clips have been uploaded on Youtube, Telegram and Instagram.

“Union of India has to play a proactive role in this. As far as child pornography is concerned, there has to be some protocol in place… because the images keep popping up,” Justice Bakhru remarked.

The court also asked, “What is the position as far as the FIR is concerned. This image has been leaked by a person in a malafide manner. You have to prosecute that person.”

Nandita Rao, Additional Standing Counsel (Criminal), Delhi government, said the investigating officer had to be hospitalised after he got sick and hence, the case could not progress.

She further said the enforcement agencies are also looking at those people who are re-uploading the content despite knowing that the image is of a child.

Ms. Rao submitted that this is a matter of child pornography and constitutes an offence under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

Advocate Tejas Karia, appearing for Facebook, said: “We are very sensitive about it. We don’t want any offending material on our platform therefore we are cooperating with the enforcement agencies. But there has to be a process that has to be followed.”

Mr. Karia said the protocols adopted in India are not different from those adopted in other countries.

‘Protocols in place’

YouTube’s counsel also said, “We have put our resources to curb child pornography. As and when any URL is shared by the enforcement agencies, we will take it down.”

Both Facebook and Google submitted that there are protocols for preventing child pornography and they will file a comprehensive affidavit disclosing the same by next hearing.

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