Protecting all of India’s online citizens is only one step away

Published:  Mon 31 Jul 2017

Last year there were more than 1.4billion connected devices in India, and by 2021, according to a report by Cisco, there will be two billion, with over 800million people connected to the internet.

Therefore, the Indian Government’s stance that everyone should be protected from stumbling across child sexual abuse images is forward-thinking and essentially, the right thing to do.

Last summer the IWF partnered with Aarambh India to set-up the first reporting portal of its kind in India. The portal is available in both English and Hindi. Having this portal in place means that if a web user in India stumbles across an image of a child being sexually abused, they can report what they’ve seen in five simple steps. Of course, it takes widespread awareness of the issues for such a tool to be used, but India is on the right track and we’ve received reports from the public which has led to criminal imagery being removed.

When, on 18 April 2017, the Government of India issued an order in relation to the ‘measures to curb online child sexual abuse material (CSAM)’, they placed a requirement on all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to adopt and implement IWF’s URL List to prevent the distribution and transmission of online child sexual abuse material into India. This comes into force on 31 July 2017 – that’s today.

If only we could see similar enthusiasm from the companies which are the gatekeepers of India’s internet. To deliver the protection the IWF URL List offers to the whole of India could be a costly, and time-consuming endeavour for all involved. Instead of approaching each ISP (they run into the low hundreds), we’re offering the list to the country’s top five internet gateways and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) - Tata Communications, Bharti Airtel, Reliance Globalcom, Sify Technologies and BSNL.

By offering the tool to these companies which deliver all of India’s internet capability, it means all ISPs in India, and therefore all online citizens, will benefit from protection.

With almost 4,000 URLs showing child sexual abuse currently on our URL List, this tool is more important now than ever; we’re seeing content staying live for longer (we’re working away in the background to get it removed) and therefore, protecting citizens is a must.

I’d like to hope that I can update you in a month or so to say that we’re now working with Tata Communications, Bharti Airtel, Reliance Globalcom, Sify Technologies and BSNL and that Indian citizens are protected. Let’s hope the Indian government’s foresight isn’t a dream never to be realised, but a realistic, practical and pioneering step in the growth of India’s internet.

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