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Internet and Child Pornography: Technology at loggerheads with Morality | Overview
- The Elephant In The Room: Is It An Amusement Or A Disease?
- Watching Porn: Is It a Crime or Not?
- Section 67 of the Information Technology Act
- Section 354 (A) of Indian Penal Code
- The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POSCO) Act
- Conclusion: The Way Forward
Child pornography has invaded the imagination of even the sane and the educated, although the prevalence is observed among juveniles. The requisite step towards a total termination might be really harsh but it has become really imperative for us as a society, to take legitimate measures.
The Internet in today’s realm comes out to be a rudimentary requirement in our day to day life. In the recent landmark judgement of Faheema Shirin v. State of Kerala, the honourable High Court of Kerala declared the Right to Internet as the Fundamental Right of an individual. Recently, the Delhi Commission for Women took a Suo Moto cognizance toward the Bois Locker Room group (undertaken by minors) which engages in sharing private photos of underage girls, sexualizing them, and planning to rape minor girls. The author wants to examine the repercussions initiated by the circulation of child pornography on the various social media platforms.
The Elephant In The Room: Is It An Amusement Or A Disease?
The circulation of the sexual content on the social media platforms is a common practice in India. Despite knowing the strict punitive measures that the state can resort to, for watching pornographic content on social media, people do not hesitate a bit. Stepping down to the gateway of pornography, sets new desires for the people watching and circulating pornography.
According to the report by the Porn Hub data, India is the third most porn-watching country in the world. With such an enormous figure, the most searched content online is child pornography and forced sex. The people watching porn on social media are mostly teenagers that are to be considered as the bright future of India. Watching illegal pornography can lead to serious repercussions.
The incident of Bois Locker Room shocks the conscience of any right-thinking person of the society to see that school-going boys are indulging in borderline paedophilia and misogynist behaviour and are using social media platforms to penetrate crimes against women and also propagating the rape culture at the same time.
Watching Porn: Is It a Crime or Not?
The Government of India has formulated many laws governing pornography in India. The Information Technology Act, 2000 [hereinafter IT Act] is a special law that deals with the matter concerning pornography in India.
A. Section 67 of the Information Technology Act.
This provision of law deals with the punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form. The person publishing any material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it, shall be punishable for a fine of ten lakh rupees or imprisonment extending to five years.
Section 67 B of the IT Act establishes punishment for publishing or transmitting material depicting children (under the age of 18) in a sexually explicit act. It also punishes the person who cultivates, entices, or induces children to online relationships with one or more children for and on sexually explicit acts or in a manner that may offend a reasonable adult on the computer resource or facilitates abusing children online.
B. Section 354 (A) of Indian Penal Code
The section punishes the offenders of the sexual harassment, who demands sex favours, makes sexually coloured remarks, shows pornography against the will of the woman, and engages in physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures. The offender can be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both. Moreover, Section 354 should be read with articles 499, 503,507 and 509 in consonance, as they provide relevant punishment regarding illegal pornography.
C. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POSCO) Act
Anyone found in possession of even digital or computer-generated sexually explicit images that appear to depict a child will have to face imprisonment that can extend up to 7 years, as per the provisions proposed in the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences Amendment Bill. Also, section 15 deals with the punishment for storing child pornographic material.
Under the POSCO Act, the social media platforms are under an obligation to inform and provide information to Special Juvenile Police Unit or the local police in regard to such content being posted and shared in its platform.
The barrier of law looks to be minuscule in front of the demon of illegal child pornography. As these legal aspects, many technological giants also propose to slow down the rate of the sexual content circulation (especially child pornography). According to the law in India, watching porn at your private space completely stands legal (unless it was child porn). The IT Act only restricts the circulation of sexually explicit content on social media, though, Child pornography in any way is seriously discouraged and punishable.
Conclusion: The Way Forward
The cybernetic platforms and technology have been a godsend for enabling people to learn, share, and grow. Few rogues cannot be permitted to dilute the credibility and utility of the social media platforms, to perpetuate and propagate their vile and abusive behaviour. The mediums which were meant to lend voices even to the voice-less, cannot be permitted to offer its platform as a breeding ground for misogyny and extend all the offline sexism and objectification that prevails, online. The incident of Bois Locker Room has shocked the judicial conscience and alarmed the system and mandates a concrete step.
The Internet, if judicially used, can bring numerous progressions in an individual and the nation but the lack of knowledge and unjustifiability, turns it into a poison. Promoting child pornography through the medium of social media is highly disgraceful for our youth. This activity encourages the mass to push innocent children towards the manhole of illegal pornography. This also promotes the sexual abuse of young children and could also lead to child trafficking.
According to a report by an NGO, India Child Protection Fund (ICPF), Consumption of child pornography content in India has spiked by 95 percent  amid lockdown. During the time of breakdown, where our Government focuses on an individual’s productivity, people are more inclined towards illegal activities.
The spike in consumption indicates that a number of paedophiles, child rapists and child pornography addicts have migrated online. This had made the internet an unsafe place for children and it could also result in a “drastic rise” in sexual crimes targeting children. Consuming such pornography also mounts users with toxic masculinity, abusive mind-set, and rape culture.
The Government of India with various social platforms should keep a close check to the circulation of pornography and explicit illegal sexual content. FBI and Interpol have to regularly crackdown such contents on darknet because the dark web is the source that contaminates the stream of social media by providing content for illegal pornography.
The IPC is the cornerstone for the criminal code in India but it was written at a time when the internet was not even conceived. Thus, IPC should be amended accordingly, so that it works in consonance with the advancement of Technology and should lay down provisions to punish the offenders dealing with child pornography. India should also work upon promoting cyber cell security to keep a check over minors and should punish that minor (infringing the rules) by sending him to the Juvenile Court for his proper Counselling and the well-being of the nation.
Our Government has to take concern about such matters in great detail as the young kids are going to be the future of innovative India. The children indulged in such activities need to get proper counselling by their parents and a precautionary punishment by the judiciary. Moreover, sex education should not be treated as a social stigma and should be mandated in the schools as they can help our generations to get more aware of the sexual behaviours and respecting other genders.
 WP(C).No.19716 OF 2019(L)
 Is Watching Porn a Crime in India 2020, https://cyber-cops.com/blog/is-watching-porn-a-crime-in-india-2020
 Protect Children from Abuse, https://protectingchildren.google/intl/en_in/howtoreport/
 Hemani Seth, India lockdown: Online child pornography consumption spikes by in India, says ICPF, https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/info-tech/india-lockdown-online-child-pornography-consumption-spikes-by-in-india-says-icpf/article31337221.ece
Authored by: Ritik Kanoujia
National Law University, Jodhpur