Centre to launch portal to redress online abuse, fraud

Unsafe space: Man and women are equally likely to be targets of image-based abuse online.   | Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

New Delhi: The Ministry of Home Affairs is all set to launch a web portal where people who have faced online abuse and victims of cyber crimes like financial frauds could register complaints on a real-time basis. The Centre also plans to give access rights to banks on the portal to address cases of fraudulent transactions online.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh said last week that as per India’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), there was a 21% increase per year in incidents of cyber crime.

The portal has been readied on the directions of a committee appointed by the Supreme Court to check circulation of child pornography and sexual violence videos on the internet. In December, the apex court had asked the Centre to set up a cell within the Central Bureau of Investigation or the Ministry of Home Affairs to report and take down such videos and messages.

Centre to launch portal to redress online abuse, fraud

On October 27, 2017 a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and U.U. Lalit said it “expected the government and social media platforms and internet service providers, including Google, Yahoo, Facebook, WhatsApp and Microsoft, to abide by the recommendations on which there is consensus and to try and implement them at the earliest.” The portal will be operational January 10 onwards.

“If money has been fraudulently withdrawn through someone’s credit or debit card, the person can log into the portal and register a complaint. Since banks would be given access rights, the concerned bank would receive the complaint and take action immediately,” said a senior home ministry official.

The official explained that though the apex court had framed guidelines to set up a centralised portal for reporting of complaints against child pornography and rape videos, they would enable the portal for victims of online abuse, cyber frauds and other financial frauds.

“There are jurisdictional issues when it comes to trans-border crimes so the portal will have the provision of real-time reporting of such crimes. This will be helpful in cases where women face online abuse: they can simply upload screenshots of objectionable messages, videos and audios. The team in MHA will do the preliminary enquiry and forward the complaint to the concerned police station for necessary action,” said the official.

The Supreme Court gave the order after NGO Prajwala moved a plea highlighting the availability of child porn and rape videos online. As per the court guidelines, there will be a separate section on the website where child pornography content and gangrape videos could be uploaded anonymously for necessary action.

The ministry also held meetings with various state police to boost its forensic capabilities to investigate such cases.

“The current law requires that an officer not below the rank of Inspector should investigate cases registered under the Information Technology Act. Since there is an increase in number of such cases, we will write to the IT ministry to amend the Act to enable Sub-Inspector level officials to investigate the cases,” said the official.

MHA has also asked states to set up cyber forensic laboratories with training facilities. “There will be one central forensic laboratory where all the latest tools will be available. State agencies can access the tools and the files will be stored in the cloud. States could access these tools, as they are expensive software,” said the official.

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Printable version | Apr 11, 2021 7:41:14 AM |

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