Child rights panel accuses Twitter of ‘lying’, violating POCSO Act, files FIR


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New Delhi: The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has waded into the ongoing tussle between the Modi government and Twitter, by filing an FIR against the social media giant. The apex child rights body has accused Twitter of giving false information and violating the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

In a video statement Monday, Priyank Kanoongo, NCPCR chairperson said that “During an investigation into a case of child abuse the commission found that Twitter had allowed sharing of WhatsApp links which showed child porn, while in another case, rape threats were being given in the comments section below a child’s photo on Twitter. When we sent a notice to Twitter India raising these concerns, they said all such matters come under Twitter Inc and that Twitter India only works on a contractual basis for them.”

The statement added that the “NCPCR went through documents of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and found that this was not true and Twitter Inc has 99% majority holding of Twitter India [therefore not a contractual arrangement]. That is why an FIR has been lodged for lying to the Commission and violations of POCSO Act.”

Twitter has not issued a formal comment on the matter yet. ThePrint reached the microblogging site for comments on the NCPCR statement via email, but there was no response from it till the time of publication of this report.

Trouble with the NCPCR came even as the Delhi High Court Monday served notices to both Twitter and the Centre seeking their stand on a case related to a petition filed against the US-based company for alleged non-compliance of IT Rules, 2021. Twitter had said that the new rules inhibit free speech, while the Modi government has accused Twitter of “defaming India”.


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Not the first allegation

“The law of the land has to be obeyed. They cannot lie to us and get away with this and that is why this FIR was lodged against them with the Commissioner of Delhi Police on Saturday,” Kanoongo told ThePrint.

The NCPCR, however, refused to share a copy of the complaint to the Delhi Police or the FIR with ThePrint. Delhi police PRO Chinmoy Biswal too refused to comment on whether the department had received the commission’s letter and an FIR lodged in the case.

Kanoongo’s statement added that the commission has also written to the Ministry of Information and Technology asking them to prohibit children from accessing Twitter “till the platform is made safe for children, till Twitter brings to notice to authorities all instances of children being threatened on the platform.”

This is not the first time that Twitter has been accused of facilitating child abuse.

In 2020 ThePrint had reported that an Australian academic had said that the micro-blogging site promotes paedophilia and encourages talk about abuse of minors.

In 2019, UK-based Internet Watch Foundation revealed that nearly half of child sexual abuse content in the social media space was being shared openly on Twitter.

Twitter’s March 2019 policy on child sexual abuse says that any discussion on attraction towards minors is permitted, “provided they don’t promote or glorify child sexual exploitation in any way”.


Also read: What Twitter, Facebook & social media firms could stand to lose if they miss IT Rules deadline


 

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