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SC notice to Google, Facebook on sexual offences videos, cybercrime

supreme court, sexual offences

The Supreme Court on Monday sought responses from three Internet search engines and social networking site Facebook on a plea that sought curbs on sharing of videos related to sexual offences and cybercrime.

A bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit sought responses from – Google India, Yahoo India, Microsoft Corporation (India) Ltd. and Facebook by January 9 on NGO Prajwala’s plea seeking a defined place where one could report such rape videos and seek their blocking.

The court’s notices for response came during the course of hearing of a letter by Hyderabad-based non-governmental organisation Prajwala along with two rape videos. Two videos submitted in a pen drive showed a man raping a woman and another man filming it.

The NGO’s lawyer Aparna Bhat said videos of sexual offences are shot and posted online, and pleaded for court directions to them to take steps to curb cybercrime.

As the court sought responses on the plea, Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh told the bench about the steps taken by the government and the Central Bureau of Investigation to curb cybercrime.

The CBI happens to be the nodal agency to deal with the cases of cybercrime.

The government said this in response to an August 28 direction by the top court, asking the Information Technology Ministry about the way it could assist in reporting and blocking videos of rape under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, which are in circulation on social networking websites.

As ASG Maninder Singh said that a debate is on in the country and abroad on making public the identity of sexual offender, the court said the identity of an alleged rape offender should not be made public merely on the registration of an offence but only after conviction.

The court said if a person gets acquitted even then he would suffer damage to his image because of prior disclosure of his identity. “It will tarnish the image of a person, (even) if he is acquitted in the sexual offence case,” the bench said.

The bench said if a person is acquitted of a sexual offence, the CBI will not investigate him for the cybercrime aspect of the offence.

Pointing to National Crime Record Bureau statistics on a sharp rise in cases of sexual violence against children, the apex court asked the Centre to include in the list of measures for curbing crimes against women, the steps to protect children from sexual violence.

The NGO’s co-founder Sunitha Krishnan is engaged in the rescue and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking for sex trade.

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