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SC asks WhatsApp to improve redressal system to curb circulation of rape videos

The Supreme Court also asked the government to set up a mechanism to receive information on any child pornography, rape or gang rape content.

india Updated: Oct 27, 2017 00:25 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
WhatsApp,Supreme Court,sexual violence
Hyderabad-based NGO Prajwala had filed a plea against the posting of rape videos on WhatsApp. (REUTERS)

The Supreme Court has asked popular messenger service WhatsApp to improve its redressal system to make it easy for lodging complaints against circulation of videos showing sexual violence and also curtailing them.

It also asked the government to create an administrative mechanism to receive information of any child pornography, rape or gang rape content being circulated. This centralised agency, to be set up under the aegis of the CBI or the ministry of home affairs, will maintain data of videos and hash-banks to identify hashes of all known child pornography, rape and gang rape imagery.

The court also suggested expansion of keywords, which when typed would flash messages warning the user against the search as it could lead to child pornography websites. For rape and gang rape videos, the SC said the government and companies should suggest the keywords.

The order was dictated during in-camera proceedings on October 23. However, it was uploaded on the official website of the SC on Thursday.

The court is hearing a petition initiated by it on a letter it received in February 2015 from Hyderabad-based NGO Prajwala against the posting of rape videos on WhatsApp.

“WhatsApp should make further improvement in their reporting process which would enable easier reporting of contents in the App while maintaining the integrity of the contents and metadata available on phone at the time of reporting,” read the high-powered committee’s recommendation, which a bench headed by Justice MB Lokur said must be abided.

The court said a separate hotline should be established for reporting, with the option for caller to remain anonymous, against the circulation.

The government has been asked to formulate specific parameters to identity rape and gang rape videos. The top court advised the Centre to ask state police to register FIR and initiate prosecution on receiving complaints against posting of violent sexual videos online and refer the matter to CBI.

The recommendations to be implemented are those on which the committee members had consensus. The SC said will hear the parties at length on proposals that remain unresolved and sought a status report on the implementation of the recommendations in a sealed cover on December 11.

First Published: Oct 26, 2017 23:28 IST