Delhi Police has decided to “up its game” in tackling online stalking and child abuse by taking help of some of the most advanced software used by US law enforcement agencies.
According to a study released by UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), one of the greatest gaps in fighting online child abuse is lack of skilled and dedicated personnel among law enforcement agencies in key investigative areas.
Sundari Nanda, Special Commissioner of Police, Women Safety, Airport and Modernisation, made a similar point and stressed that police personnel need to know about online mediums since they are approached by people in distress.
“Many of the crimes against women and children are happening in the online space. We have to up our game when we are dealing with such criminals. It is essential for our officers to know about online platforms and social media and the threats posed by them,” she said.
Bearing this in mind, a three-day training programme was organised by Delhi Police’s Special Police Unit for Women and Children (SPUWAC) in collaboration with Data Security Council of India (DSCI) and International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC) to train police officers about how the Internet is being used to target children.
At the programme, police officers were told that they might be given access to software used by the FBI and other premier investigative agencies.
“During the three-day training programme, we were told that ICMEC has developed software in collaboration with the FBI, other law enforcement agencies in the US and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that might be made available to us.
“These softwares are quite advanced and can track online predators, how they are accessing child pornographic images, where all the images have been circulated, from where these were uploaded. They can lead you to the IP address from where the abuse might be happening,” said a senior police officer who attended the programme.
While there are laws to tackle child abuse in India, there are not sufficient figures on the issue, a fact pointed out by UNICEF India in its report titled ‘Child Online Protection in India’ that was released last month.
According to the report, despite the presence of close to 400 million Internet users in India, a majority of them being the youth, there are no reliable figures on child online abuse and exploitation.
The report also stated that even though cyber crimes against children, have various forms like sexting, online grooming, child pornography and cyber bullying, they are under-reported and not included in the National Crime Records Bureau statistics as a separate category.
Last month, a 29-year-old man was arrested in the national capital for harassing more than 50 minor girls in the age group of 9-16, by sending them their morphed photos and abusive messages through WhatsApp and Facebook.