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Online soliciting on Orkut

Experts say cops can block sites by complaining to the IT team, write Jatin Gandhi and Jairaj Singh.
None | By Jatin Gandhi and Jairaj Singh, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON OCT 23, 2006 05:44 PM IST

Orkut's profile has taken another hit. Google’s social-networking site, which created controversy with its hate-India communities, also abounds with over 100 communities that solicit sex and prostitution from Indian cities.

Dhirender Singh, secretary in the Ministry of Information Technology, said the ministry would file an affidavit with the Maharashtra High Court in the case on hate-India communities and added that soliciting would also be dealt with.

A search on Orkut lists communities from "Call Girls" to "Sex in Mumbai than Delhi". HT correspondents posed as customers and sent emails to these communities that have over 5,000 members from Pune, Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Bhopal.

"Are you a virgin?" replied one. "I’ll mail you back with my price and place." Another, named Sachin and whose profile listed him as 'a pimp and a gigolo,' responded, "I’m willing to have sex but for a price we have to decide." Sex on the internet is nothing new, but Orkut makes soliciting easy through its open message boards.

Add to the fact that the website is hugely popular with young Indians, compared with other social-networking sites like Hi5, Myspace and Friendster.

Soliciting is a crime under the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act while Section 67 of the Information Technology Act prohibits the transmission of obscenity in electronic form.

However, the Delhi Police said someone like Sachin could not be booked. "Saying that one is available for sex for a price is not obscenity or soliciting under the IT Act," said Prabhakar, deputy commissioner of Delhi Police’s Cyber Cell.

"While obscenity is banned, soliciting on the Net that does not use obscene language or pictures is not," says Rajan Bhagat, PRO, Delhi Police. But Orkut is filled with indecent pictures.

Police say they need a complaint to act. Subimal Bhattacharjee, cyber security analyst, disagrees. "Police can take cognisance of such offences," he says. "If police feel a certain website needs to be blocked, that can be done too."

Sex and the Net Google’s social-networking site Orkut has over 100 communities that solicit sex and prostitution from Indian cities.

Moreover, the website is very popular with young Indians, Cyber security analysts say that if a website has to be blocked, police can do so by reporting it to the IT Ministry’s Computer Emergency Response Team.

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