Delhi High Court tells Facebook, Google to remove woman’s personal pics
Justice Vibhu Bakhru on Tuesday directed the police to forward the offending material to the NCRB, stating that the content undeniably falls within the scope of sexually explicit material relating to a child.Updated: Oct 23, 2020, 07:29 IST
The Delhi high court has directed Facebook, Google and agencies, including the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), to take measures to remove the intimate pictures of a woman who said she shared them with a male friend in 2012 when she was a teenager. He put them up on social media sites after their relationship soured.
Justice Vibhu Bakhru on Tuesday directed the police to forward the offending material to the NCRB, stating that the content undeniably falls within the scope of sexually explicit material relating to a child. The court also directed the police to use the resources available with NCRB and/or other agencies to identify the people who were re-uploading the offensive content in India and take action.
“...Respondent nos.2 (Facebook) and R3 (Google) are also directed to use such measures as available with them to remove the contents which are similar to the contents of the URLs earlier removed...,” the court said in its ruling.
The woman, now aged 24, had petitioned the court to issue directions to various social media companies to remove all the offending URLS and content that had her images on them. The woman told the court that she shared the photographs when she was 16 years old with a friend, who had threatened to take his life otherwise.
According to her plea, when she was studying in Delhi, she came to be acquainted with a boy who was in the same class. She alleged that he started blackmailing her emotionally and compelled her to send intimate photographs of hers to him, and she complied.
After completing her schooling, she secured admission in an institution abroad in August 2014 and moved out of India. She said the man attacked her when she was abroad and was also held guilty by a foreign court, which issued restraining orders against him. She told the court that in October – November 2019, she became aware that he had posted her intimate pictures on various platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
The court, in July, had asked the various social media platforms to remove the URLs and objectionable content. But the photographs had been widely circulated and were being uploaded by people other than the man.
Facebook, in an affidavit, told the court that it had implemented a number of measures to combat the spread of child pornography including working with National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) which is a non-profit organization involved in helping find missing children, reduce child sexual exploitation and prevent child victimization.
The social media company said NCMEC had created Cyber Tipline, providing an online forum to receive reports of suspected child porn content on the internet. When Facebook identifies child pornography on its platforms, it immediately removes the content, the company claimed.
Google also filed an affidavit claiming that it had adopted various protocols to deal with child pornography or Child Sexual Abuse Material on its YouTube platform. Google said the measures included removal of objectionable content on individual reporting and the Trusted Flagger Program to provide robust tools to individuals, government agencies and non-government organizations for effectively notifying objectionable content on YouTube.
Appearing for the ministry of electronics and Information technology, advocate Anurag Ahluwalia, the central government’s standing counsel, told the court that NCRB acts as a nodal agency for technical and operational functions of the On-Line Cyber Reporting Portal: “www.cybercrime.gov.in.”
Following the affidavits, the court directed the social media platforms and agencies to remove the content, subject to technological limitations, and disposed of the plea by the woman.