A controversial website that was in the news for all the wrong reasons last year before being shut down has now gone operational once again. Not only that, this time it seems to have caught the attention of Indian cybercriminals, who are using it to prey on women.
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Cybercrime agencies in Maharashtra and the country are currently tracking Deep Nude, a website that uses a simple Artificial Intelligence algorithm to generate nude pictures of clothed people. The website requires a user to upload any picture and within seconds generates a nude version of the subject of the picture, which are typically of women.
What is more worrying, officials said, is that there are several versions of Deep Nude on the Internet, including an app and a Twitter Handle; one page even seeks donations from users.
“This is a serious crime and we have a team to monitor this and take stringent action. We are very proactive about taking action in such cases,” Superintendent of Police, Maharashtra Cyber department, Balsing Rajput, said.
Experts said that once a nude of any woman was generated, the possibilities for misuse were endless. Already, information about some women being targeted had started trickling in.
“We have received information about pictures of women being morphed using Deep Nude and being used for nefarious purposes like blackmail, pornography and creating catfish accounts on dating apps. Information is being shared with the relevant police agencies and we are tracking this trend further,” civilian cyber expert Shubham Singh said.
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Catfish accounts are accounts made and managed by criminal elements using alluring pictures of women to ensnare men into committing acts that set them up for blackmail later. This could be anything, from chatting suggestively with married men till they send inappropriate messages that can threaten their marriage if exposed, to inducing them into sending compromising pictures of themselves. Possibilities like revenge porn and character assassination are also high on the list.
Typically, elements who use such websites thrive on the fact that the victims are reluctant to register complaints for fear of the stigma attached to it. Officers stress on the importance of reporting such cases, so that swift action can be taken that can serve as a deterrent for others.
“Recent trends like the Saree Challenge, where women upload their pictures on their social media accounts and tag their friends, creating a chain, present endless opportunities to criminal elements to prey on them using websites like Deep Nude. It is best to have privacy settings that do not allow strangers access to pictures,” a Cyber police officer said.
Earlier this year, Maharashtra Cyber started Operation Blackface, a campaign against online sexual exploitation of women and children in India, and the campaign is still ongoing.
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“We have registered 140 FIRs and arrested 42 accused in the last three months in Maharashtra for online child pornography or exploitation of women and children over the Internet or social media. This is one of the largest crackdowns on such offences in recent times,” Mr. Rajput said.