Delhi Police lodge FIR over child pornographic content on Twitter

Updated on Jun 30, 2021 02:26 AM IST

According to the CyPAD officer quoted above, a total of 13 screenshots pertaining to child sexual abuse and child pornographic material on Twitter and the accounts that posted them were received on Monday from the NCPCR. A majority of the accounts were not accessible.

An official at Twitter, who asked not the named, said the site employs PhotoDNA technology, its own proprietary tools, and other systems to detect behavioural signals and remove media with such content.(Reuters file photo)
An official at Twitter, who asked not the named, said the site employs PhotoDNA technology, its own proprietary tools, and other systems to detect behavioural signals and remove media with such content.(Reuters file photo)
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The Delhi Police on Tuesday registered a first information report (FIR) in connection with the child sexual abuse and child pornographic material available on microblogging site Twitter, a complaint regarding which was received from the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) last month.

“Acting on the NCPCR’s complaint regarding availability of child sexual abuse and child pornographic material on Twitter, in the form of various accounts and links, a case has been registered by the cyber cell unit (CyPAD) under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Information Technology (IT) Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. Investigation into the case has been taken up,” said Delhi Police spokesperson Chinmoy Biswal.

On being asked whether the FIR was registered specifically against the microblogging site, a CyPAD officer, who asked not to be named, said, “It is an FIR that has been registered against the unlawful activities involving various accounts and links on Twitter. The case is not against any individual or company. We will investigate the case to ascertain the culprits and fix responsibility, who could be individuals as well as the company.”

When contacted, a Twitter spokesperson said, “Twitter has a zero-tolerance policy for child sexual exploitation (CSE) and we have a proactive approach to combating sexual exploitation of minors on our service. We have been at the forefront of responding to the evolving challenge of preventing the exploitation of children on the Internet and will continue to aggressively fight online child sexual abuse, as well as invest in the technology and tools that are essential to stay ahead of this issue.

“We will continue to invest in proactive detection and removal of content that violates Twitter rules and work with law enforcement and NGO partners in India to tackle the issue,” the spokesperson continued.

According to the CyPAD officer quoted above, a total of 13 screenshots pertaining to child sexual abuse and child pornographic material on Twitter and the accounts that posted them were received on Monday from the NCPCR. A majority of the accounts were not accessible. But since child sexual abuse and pornographic materials were visible in the screenshots, the FIR was registered for further investigation, the officer said.

“We will now be approaching Twitter to seek its assistance in collecting details about the users of the accounts from which the objectionable materials were uploaded. Our further probe would proceed based on the information that Twitter shares with us. We are also trying other options to identify the users of the accounts in question,” the officer said.

The NCPCR filed the complaint on May 29 with Delhi Police commissioner SN Shrivastava, seeking an FIR against Twitter Inc and Twitter Communication India Private Limited (TCIPL), following its inquiry into the availability of child sexual abuse and pornographic material on the site.

It asked the police chief for a copy of the FIR and action taken report in seven days. It sent a reminder on June 8 and summoned the CyPAD’s deputy commissioner of police, Anyesh Roy, to appear before the commission on June 29 (Tuesday) with the action taken report.

In its complaint, the NCPCR also mentioned the registration of an FIR against Mohammad Zubair, co-founder of fact-checking website Alt News, by the Delhi Police’s cyber cell last year on a complaint the commission had received in regard to online threats and repeated incidents of stalking of a minor girl on Twitter allegedly by Zubair.

The commission also expressed its discontent against Twitter and said the “Twitter handle of Mohammad Zubair is still active and there seems to be no action initiated or taken by Twitter against the aforesaid person, who has exposed a minor to harassment in the virtual world”. Zubair had denied the allegations to a news agency and added he would take legal recourse.

The commission said it also conducted an inquiry into the spreading of child sexual abuse material and porn sites on the internet, web and social media platforms, including Twitter.

“It was also observed by the commission that the toolkit for deep and dark web was also available on Twitter. Thus, giving access to all, including children, to obtain such material,” the complaint read.

An official at Twitter, who asked not the named, said the site employs PhotoDNA technology, its own proprietary tools, and other systems to detect behavioural signals and remove media with such content. Viewing, sharing or uploading such content was prohibited on the site, the official added.

“In 2019, we launched a feature in our search prompt that is aimed at deterrence of child sexual exploitation (CSE). The prompt was developed in collaboration with the ministry of home affairs and NGOs in India to blacklist specific CSE search keywords in Hindi, English, Bengali and Kannada,” the official further said.

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