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Making cyberspace safe for children | #cybercrime | #computerhacker

The alarming rise in cybercrimes against children in India is a cause for grave concern for parents. The National Crime Records Bureau’s data shows that cybercrime against children in the country has increased more than four times, from 306 cases in 2019 to 1376 cases in 2021. While stringent laws have been enacted and enforced against perpetrators of cybercrimes, a massive awareness drive among parents, school authorities, and educators is required to protect children from cybercrimes against them. The government attributes the rise in cybercrimes against children to the expansion of the internet and more people accessing it. Internet-based teaching and learning have huge educational benefits for children. This necessitates creating an enabling ecosystem for them to get easy and affordable access to such digital content to enhance their knowledge base. The Central government’s policies envisage an Open, safe, trusted, and accountable internet for all users, while the Information Technology Act, 2000 (“IT Act”) includes provisions for 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 acts, the creation of text or images, the collection, seeking, browsing, downloading, advertising, promotion, exchange, or distribution of electronic material depicting them in an obscene, indecent, or sexually explicit manner, cultivating or enticing or inducing them to online relationships with other children for sexually explicit acts or in an offending manner, facilitating their online abuse, and electronically recording abuse pertaining to sexually explicit acts with children. The Act says such an offence is punishable with imprisonment of up to five years on first conviction and seven years on subsequent conviction, along with a fine of up to ten lakh rupees, and is a cognizable offence. The ‘Police, being a state subject, are primarily responsible for the prevention, investigation, etc., of such cybercrime against children, and state police departments take preventive and penal action as per law in respect of such crimes. The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, is another legal provision for the central and state governments to deal with cybercrimes with synergy. These rules require internet intermediaries, including social media intermediaries, to make reasonable efforts to cause the users not to host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, store, update, or share information that is harmful to children, obscene, invasive of another’s bodily privacy, or violates any law. They are also required to provide information or assistance for prevention, detection, investigation, or prosecution under law in a time-bound manner within 72 hours upon receipt of an order from an authorised government agency and to put in place a mechanism facilitating the raising of a grievance against the publication of such prohibited content and resolve such complaints of violations of rules within 72 hours. Besides, the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal ( enables citizens to report complaints pertaining to all types of cybercrimes, with a special focus on cybercrimes against children, while the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) set up by the Ministry of Home Affairs deals with all types of cybercrime, including cybercrime against children, in a coordinated and comprehensive manner. Government measures to combat cybercrime against children include blocking websites containing child sexual abuse material based on Interpol lists obtained through the Central Bureau of Investigation and requesting Internet Service Providers to educate their subscribers about the use of parental control filters. While these measures are related to actions by law enforcement agencies after the cybercrime has been committed, educating parents and children on the safe use of the internet is of paramount importance to shield them from perpetrators and prevent such cybercrimes. Parents and teachers must ensure that children use the internet to access information only under their guidance and supervision. Every school providing students access to the internet for smart classes must ensure that effective firewalls, filtering, and monitoring software are loaded on all computers used in schools, as directed by the Central Board of Secondary Education guidelines on the safe and secure use of the Internet. Many parents are seen providing smartphones to their minor children to keep them busy so that they can browse the internet or use the smartphone undisturbed. Those children browse the internet without parental guidance, which exposes them to cybercriminals on the prowl. Awareness campaigns are run through social media networks and other channels of communication. An impact analysis of such an awareness drive, if carried out periodically, will help identify the gaps that exist and need to be removed. “Likes fade, but the digital scars remain. Shield your child from the perils of sharing. Be mindful of what you share about your child on Social media is an effective campaign run by the Assam Police, and wider dissemination of such a campaign will caution parents to be extra careful.


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