The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology(MEITY) in a bid to curb the online Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) has asked all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) having Cable Landing Station Gateways / International Long Distance licenses in India to prevent the distribution and transmission of such content into India by adopting and implementing Internet Watch Foundation Resources on or before 31st July 2017.
Containing the spread of online CSAM is an important public policy goal for India, and the Government is taking immediate steps to control this menace. The publication or transmission of material depicting children in sexually explicit act or conduct in electronic form is a heinous crime, specifically prohibited by Section 67B of the Information Technology Act, 2000. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in Kamlesh Vaswani v Union of India had also directed the Union of India to take positive steps to tackle the issue of CSAM.
The notification issued by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology instructs all ISP’s to observe the existing due diligence requirements prescribed by the Central Government under the Information Technology Act, 2000 and Rules and Regulations there under, including the obligation to expeditiously remove or disable access to any unlawful content brought to its notice by relevant authorities.
In December 2016, the Central Government had constituted an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) to recommend specific solutions to address the issue of online CSAM. The IMC observed that most of such online CSAM is being hosted outside India and the websites/URLs containing such content are dynamic in nature and frequently changing, making it difficult to identify and block such content. No centralized mechanism exists in India to monitor online CSAM. Globally, there exists only a few major resources that provide a dynamic list of websites/URLs identifying online CSAM. The IMC recommended that till such time a centralized mechanism is built in India to dynamically monitor websites/URLs containing online CSAM, the relevant ISP’s in India should adopt and disable/remove the online CSAM dynamically based on the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) list.
The Internet Watch Foundation maintains such a list of dynamically updated websites/URLs containing online CSAM. IWF has been adopted by many countries and is already being implemented by leading online service providers in other jurisdictions. IWF resources are available to ISPs on a subscription basis, either individually or collectively.
Currently, all Internet Service Providers have an obligation to observe certain due diligence requirements and remove or disable access to content which is considered pedophilic or harms minors in any way as per the law.