‘Bulli Bai’ app row: IT minister says working with police, high-level committee to probe incident

Cert-In has been asked to form “a high level committee” to probe the incident, and to co-ordinate with the cyber cells of state police forces.

IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Sunday that the government is working with police in Delhi and Mumbai in the matter and the National Commission for Women too stepped in.

Amid outrage over a dodgy app that has posted pictures of Muslim women, including many prominent personalities, “for auction”, the government has asked cyber security and law enforcement agencies to investigate complaints related to the website that had hosted lewd pictures and objectionable comments “aimed at insulting Muslim women”.

The Indian Computer Emergency Response System (Cert-In), the nodal agency for monitoring cyber security incidents and related threats, has been asked to form “a high level committee” to probe the incident, and to co-ordinate with the cyber cells of state police forces, senior government officials said.

Meanwhile, ANI quoted police sources saying that Dehli Police has sought information from Twitter about the account that first tweeted about ‘Bulli Bai’ app & asked it to remove offensive content related to the controversy. It has also sought information from GitHub platform about ‘Bulli Bai’ app developer.

IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Sunday that the government is working with police in Delhi and Mumbai in the matter and the National Commission for Women too stepped in. The NCW has written to the Delhi Police to expedite its action in the case against the ‘Bulli Bai’ app, floated for trolling and harassing the victims, to ensure that such crimes do not recur.

Earlier on Saturday, Vaishnaw had tweeted that GitHub, the coding platform on which the said app was hosted, had blocked the user, and Cert-In and police were “co-coordinating further action”.

On Sunday, separate FIRs were registered in the case by police in Delhi and Mumbai. Besides the unknown persons who developed the app, Mumbai Police also booked certain Twitter handles that disseminated the content on charges of stalking, defamation, promoting enmity, and posting lewd comments.

The National Commission for Women (NCW) has written to Delhi Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana seeking immediate action in the case. “@NCWIndia has taken cognizance of this incident. Chairperson @sharmarekha has written to @CPDelhi to immediately register FIR in the matter. The process must be expedited so that such crime is not repeated,” the commission posted on Twitter.

Hundreds of Muslim women were listed for “auction” on the app with photographs sourced without permission and doctored. It has happened for the second time in less than a year. The app appeared to be a clone of Sulli Deals which triggered a similar row last year.

Twitter has suspended an account that had been sharing links to the app hosted on GitHub. The Twitter handle had the same name as the objectionable app. Twitter did not respond to emails seeking comments on the account and its suspension.

Earlier in June 2021, another app with a name similar to the one currently under investigation had appeared on GitHub with pictures of Muslim women captioned “deal of the day”.

Subsequently, on July 7 and 8, police in Noida and Delhi had registered separate FIRs against unknown persons in the case, but there has been no progress in the investigations.

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