No getting around technology

Technology in contemporary times is everywhere and there’s no getting around from it. Understanding and knowing how to use technology is essential. The internet exposes kids to an expansive place, making them vulnerable to cyber attacks, catfishing, cyberbullying, and other harmful situations.

Recently the government informed parliament that its policies are aimed at ensuring an Open, Safe and Trusted and Accountable Internet for its all users. With the expansion of the Internet and more and more Indians coming online, the instances of cybercrimes, including against children, have grown.

The Information Technology Act, 2000 and rules made thereunder contain provisions aimed at making cyberspace safe and accountable for children. Section 67B of the IT Act penalises the publishing or transmitting of electronic material depicting children in sexually explicit act, the creation of text or images, collection, seeking, browsing, downloading, advertising, promotion, exchange or distribution of electronic material depicting them in obscene or indecent or sexually explicit manner, cultivating or enticing or inducing them to online relationship with other children for sexually explicit act or in an offending manner, facilitating their online abuse, and electronically recording abuse pertaining to sexually explicit act with children. Such an offence is punishable with imprisonment of up to five years on first conviction and seven years on subsequent conviction along with fine of up to ten lakh rupees, and is a cognizable offence.

To help achieve the aim of making Internet Open, Safe and Trusted and Accountable and to strengthen the mechanism to deal with such cybercrimes in a coordinated manner, the Central Government  has made the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. These rules cast specific obligation on intermediaries, including social media intermediaries, to observe due diligence and provide that if they fail to observe such due diligence, they shall no longer be exempt from their liability under law for third-party information or data or communication link hosted by them. Such due diligence includes making reasonable efforts to cause the users not to host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, store, update or share, information which is harmful to child, or obscene, or invasive of another’s bodily privacy, or violates any law.

They are also required on a voluntary basis on violation, and on actual knowledge upon receipt of a grievance or court order or notice from the appropriate government or its agency, to not host, store or publish unlawful information prohibited under law for the time being in force in relation to the interest of decency or morality or defamation. The concerned agencies must ensure due compliance with diligence.

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