Supreme Court issues notice to Google, Microsoft, Facebook over rape videos

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The Supreme Court has asked for responses from Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook with regards to curbing the sharing of videos related to sexual offences and cybercrime. The directive arrives on the backdrop of a rising number of rape videos being circulated via communication platforms such as WhatsApp.

Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and Facebook have until January 9 to formulate a reply to the SC bench’s notice. The authority is currently examining a PIL filed by Sunitha Krishnan, one of the founding members of anti-sex trafficking NGO Prajwala. She’s seeking the creation of an agency which has a pan-India jurisdiction to investigate rape videos.

The SC was hearing a letter and two rape videos stored in a pen drive sent to the previous Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu by Prajwala. As per PTI, the court had taken suo motu note of the letter on the uploading of the videos to WhatsApp and had asked the CBI to kick start a probe to catch the people behind it.

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Advocate Aparna Bhatt, representing Prajwala, asserted that footage of rapes are captured and posted on social media and tech companies should therefore take steps to stop such instances of cybercrime. Additional solicitor general Maninder Singh, representing the Center, then went on to detail the measures currently being undertaken by the CBI and Union Home Ministry.

Singh also spoke about the debate concerning whether or not the names of sexual offenders should be made public. The Supreme Court is of the view that this should done only after the person in question has been formally convicted of the crime and not immediately after the case has been lodged since the latter move could tarnish their image if acquitted.

Moreover, the SC bench ordered that if a state’s police force doesn’t find anything against a suspect then the CBI will refrain from interrogating them about the cybercrime aspect of the case.