IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 27th Nov 2020

“Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is.” – Vince Lombardi

Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Editorial Hunt is an initiative to dilute major Editorials of leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Here we choose two editorials on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC MAINS 2020-21.

EDITORIAL HUNT #264 :“1 In 10 Indian Youth faces Online Abuse, Half Don’t Report | UPSC

1 In 10 Indian Youth faces Online Abuse, Half Don't Report | UPSC

Vrinda Bhandari
1 In 10 Indian Youth faces Online Abuse, Half Don’t Report | UPSC

Designation

      HEADLINES:

Are tougher laws the answer to check online abuse?

      CENTRAL THEME:

There is a strong and wide gamut of laws, but implementation is poor in many cases

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2 : 3 : Right to dignity : Cyber Security

      MAINS QUESTION:

Examine the recent Kerala’s Ordinance ; detention on dissemination of defamatory content . Do you think we already have several laws abiding the same purpose ? -(GS 3)

      LEARNING: 

  • Fairness of laws
  • Wide gamuts of laws
  • Previous Amendments
  • Need for a statute
  • How to Report Online Abuse ?

      INTRODUCTION: 

Kerala’s government has decided to withdraw an Ordinance that gives unbridled powers to the police to arrest anyone expressing or disseminating any matter that it deems defamatory.

  • FAIRNESS OF LAWS : The move to introduce such a law in the first place shows that State governments believe that existing laws are not adequate to deal with social media abuse.

Online Abuse UPSCSOURCES : NYAAYA.ORG

      BODY: 

  • HALF SCRIPTED AMENDMENT : The principal argument of the Kerala government in bringing this law was that the New Delhi had not brought in legislation yet to replace the revoked Section 66A.

This had left the police hamstrung in effectively dealing with social media abuse and cyber crime. 

WIDE GAMUT OF LAWS

  • EXISTING LAWS ARE ADEQUATE? : The Indian Penal Code (IPC) that criminalises speech that is obscene, defamatory, that insults the modesty of women and intrudes upon her privacy.

FEW PROVISIONS UNDER IPC

  • Section 354A punishes sexual harassment, including making sexually coloured remarks.
  • Section 354C punishes voyeurism that is capturing or disseminating images of a woman engaged in a private act in circumstances where she expects privacy
  • Section 354D punishes stalking, especially online stalking.
  • Section 503 prohibits criminal intimidation, including issuing physical threats to a person.
  • Section 506 punishes criminal intimidation by ‘imputing unchastity’ to a woman.
  • Section 509 punishes words, gestures or acts intended to insult the modesty of a woman or to intrude upon her privacy.

PROTECTION OF CHILDREN FROM SEXUAL OFFENCES ACT

Amongst other things, provisions in the Act prevent sexual harassment of a child as well as the use of children for pornographic purposes.

  • Section 11defines and makes sexual harassment a punishable offence
  • Section 12penalizes sexual harassment of a child.
  • Section 13 makes the use of children for pornographic purposesa punishable offence
  • Section 14penalise anyone who uses a child for pornographic purposes

OTHER PROVISIONS

  • PENAL ACTION : It punishes anonymous criminal intimidation, it punishes voyeurism, it punishes digitally enabled stalking, hate speech, and even non-consensual sharing of sexual images online.
  • IT ACT 2002 : In addition to that, you have the Information Technology Act of 2000 that punishes speech that is obscene.
  • LIABILITIES PLACED : The IT Act also places obligations on intermediaries, where intermediaries have a duty of due diligence; they have to take down content based on a request by the government or a court order.

This obligation is actually very broadly worded — any information that is grossly harmful, harassing, blasphemous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic, paedophilic, libellous, invasive of another’s privacy.

  • WIDER ASPECTS OF IT ACT 2002 : Also hateful, or racially or ethnically objectionable, disparaging, etc.
  • EXTRA LEGISLATION : Apart from Kerala, you have Chhattisgarh, for instance, which recently brought in an amendment to criminalise sexual harassment online.

This looked at criminalising “obscene, lewd, filthy or indecent comments online”. 

  • ACCESSIBILITY : State governments must also be focused on improving the criminal justice system in order to make it easier for women to be able to access the systemto make complaints.
  • SIMPLIFYINGTHE NORMS :  For the police too, it should be a single window to prosecute the complaints properly.

There is no doubt that there is a problem with hate speech in the online space. 

Online Abuse UPSC

SOURCES : AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

  • NATURE OF OFFENCE : New Delhi has also initiated consultations on amendments to the IT Act.One of the issues being taken up in this context is likely to be the scope of offences under the Act.
  • BETTER DRAFTED PROVISIONS : Putting in place arbitrary or poorly defined offences is really not going to help the situation.
  • DELIBERATIONS : If  Kerala had actually outlined the specific problem and conducted more consultations ; Things could be more transparent.
  • IMPLEMENTATION : Enforcement and implementation of existing laws is not very good.

It’s common knowledge that it’s generally not very easy for victims or individuals to file and proceed with complaints.

  • DATA DEFICIENCY : Given the massive usage of the Internet in India, the huge amounts of hate speech online , there is a really low number of cyber crimes as per the NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) data.

EXAMPLE
In 2017, there were only about 21,000 cases in India, which is a huge jump from the 12,000 odd cases in 2016.

AMENDING EXISTING FRAMEWORKS

To this end, there have been some efforts to amend existing legal frameworks. Two are worth mentioning.

  • PRIVATE MEMBER’S BILL : The first was a Private Member’s bill, which was introduced in Parliament by the Congress’ Arunachal East MP, Ninong Ering.The Bill wasn’tactually taken up by Parliament.

It was called the Social Media Accountability Bill and it sought to impose a range of obligations on social media platforms, and also create a new regulator to oversee the space.

  • INTENT OF AMENDMENT : Then there were proposed changes to the intermediaries rules under the IT Act that were released to the public in December 2018.
  • THE ONLY WAY OUT : These amendments basically sought to increase the number of obligations on intermediaries of all types.

NEED FOR A STATUTE

  • ABSENCE OF LEGAL FRAMEWORK : In the absence of any changes in the legislative structure, courts and State have largely resorted to blocking content.

EXAMPLE
The Madras High Court threatened to ban TikTok because it was supposedly enabling the circulation of obscene content. 

  • FILTERING TASK : It’s also important to remember that the state from time to time issues directions, which has happened most recently in the context of WhatsApp.
  • CENSORING BOOTHS : The Election Commission, which has taken some steps in the context of electorally sensitive content.

MISUSE OF EXISTING LAWS

  • DUAL DISCOURSE : Chhattisgarh has already passed an amendment using similarly broad language to criminalise online sexual harassment and this law has already been misused.
  • OVERLAPPING EFFECT : What could be problematic is if you have a variety of laws being passed to deal with the same issue which might lead to inconsistency.

Numerous States have amended laws such as the Goondas Act to apply these to the digital space.

      IASbhai Windup: 

HOW TO REPORT ONLINE ABUSE

  • Local Police Station: You can also file an F.I.R. at a local police station. Remember: It is compulsory for a police station to register an F.I.R, you have the right to this redressal if you choose it.
  • REPORTING ON SOCIAL MEDIA WEBSITES : Most social media platforms have the option of reporting online harassment. 

Please check the following links:

OTHERS

  • CYBER CELLS : They have been established especially to deal with victims of cybercrime. You can also file a complaint at www.cybercrime.gov.in
  • MINISTRY OF WOMEN AND CHILD DEVELOPMENT : A specific email account has been established by the Ministry which is dedicated to complaints related to abusive behaviour, harassment or hateful conduct on social media. You can email at: complaint-mwcd@gov.in
  • THE NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR WOMEN :  In the case of women, You can either make a complaint online, email at: complaintcell-ncw@nic.in; or call the NCW at: +91-11-26944880.

What a lot of the public discussion has focused on is how intermediaries need to do more to make the Internet a safer place.

       SOURCES:   THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | 1 In 10 Indian Youth faces Online Abuse, Half Don’t Report | UPSC

 

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