The numbers of people, especially young, using social media are increasing day by day. With it, the public visibility of personal communication and expression of ideas and emotions increase and happen at a rapid pace. However, crimes such as revenge porn, cyberstalking and slut shaming and hateful conduct are increasing on the social media platforms. Some, rather occasional controversies are subsumed over a period. However many problems remain and justice delivery mechanisms appear to be very complex and inaccessible to women and the marginalised when it comes to cyber crimes.
Apart from simplifying means for justice delivery, there is need to spread awareness as well as training law enforcement agencies and improve cyber forensic facilities including properly educating them on gender sensitisation. These steps would surely help to prevent such cases and expedite investigation.
There are several laws to prevent such crimes. The Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 (21 of 2000) has provisions regarding cheating by personation (section 66D), violation of privacy (section 66E), publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form (section 67), publishing or transmitting material containing sexually explicit act, etc. in electronic form (section 67A), publishing or transmitting material depicting children in the sexually explicit act, etc. in electronic form (section 67B), etc.
Rule 3 (2) (b) of Information Technology (Intermediaries guidelines) Rules, 2011 provides for an obligation for Intermediaries (Social media platforms) to inform users of computer resources not to host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, update or share any information that is grossly harmful, harassing, blasphemous defamatory, obscene, pornographic, pedophilic, libelous, and invasive of another’s privacy.
There is also a scheme namely Cyber Crime Prevention against Women and Children (CCPWC), funded under Nirbhaya Fund, under which an online Cyber Crime reporting portal, (www.cybercrime.gov.in) has been launched, to enable public to report complaints pertaining to rape/ gang rape imageries or sexually explicit content, Child Pornography/ Child Sexual Abuse Material.
This portal facilitates the public to lodge all types of cybercrimes with special focus on crimes against women and children.
The government is primarily responsible for the prevention, detection, investigation, and prosecution of crimes through law enforcement machinery. There is a need to take prompt action as per provisions of law against the criminals misusing the social media and regularly post horribly misogynistic comments including rape threats to women on social media.
While there are laws that need to be followed and utilized, the cause for the offences should be carefully studied and responded to by society also.