ACT HARSH

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 13 Aug 2017 11:13:18


Cases of offensive posts against women and children on social sites, which is a form of abuse, are very frequently reported. Anyone willing to avenge an insult, real or perceived; any pervert mind bent on settling scores or any lout or waif harbouring some grudge can use the social media to vent his ire by maligning the character and image of target individuals, who are mostly women.

WITH rising cases of harassment of women on social media channels, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad recently asked law enforcement officials to be “very harsh” in dealing with such cases. The IT and Law Minister also said that the Government would ask firmly all social media platforms to follow Indian laws, especially on issues related to women.

Prasad was addressing a conference of superintendents of police and commandants of central armed police forces in Delhi. He told the officers, “In the case of offence against women, abuse in social media, becomes very harsh. We are doing our best. A large number of sites have been blocked.
“We are going to sensitise all the social media platforms. Indian laws are required to be followed.” He said that the Government had come up with a system of a panic button on cell phones for protecting women. Prasad said that to block child pornography, his Ministry had already taken measures in co-ordination with Interpol.

Asking the IPS cadre to use digital media proficiently for better administration, the Minister further said that it was important for the officers to be more communicative and active on social media by way of which they can also communicate the right information to the public and dispel immediately rumours intended to disturb peace and harmony in society.  Furthering the cause of digital drive the Government is pushing, Prasad said even driving licence in digital form i.e. saved on a driver’s mobile phone was acceptable and the cops must be trained to accept the same as valid proof
of licence.

It is pertinent to note that social media is a very potent force that drives emotions and incites passions easily. Like most other things, social media is both a boon and a bane, depending on the use it is put to. If the thing is used responsibly and ethically, it can be a tool of empowerment as it spreads knowledge and awareness and strengthens information society.

In today’s world, information is the key mover of decisions and priorities in any society. But the same media channel can also be used or rather misused, to disseminate wrong information and spread canards about people and issues, evoking volatile passions which can and do lead to violence and arson. Due to the liberty and easy access they provide, anyone can post almost anything on social media sites which have no mechanism for verification of facts.

Cases of offensive posts against women and children on social sites, which is a form of abuse, are very frequently reported. Anyone willing to avenge an insult, real or perceived; any pervert mind bent on settling scores or any lout or waif harbouring some grudge can use the social media to vent his ire by maligning the character and image of target individuals, who are
mostly women.

Social media has become one of the easiest ways to attack someone and since the spread and circulation of such posts are wide and deep, one who is a victim easily gets a scandalous reputation far and wide which is hard to reverse.

The Government has taken several steps like blocking websites which have offensive content that is derisive of women or children and have equipped the police with the digital wherewithal to check and stall such spread of misinformation but still, we have a long way to go.

Social media sites cannot be blocked in normal circumstances. All websites, no matter how intently scrutinising any Government is, cannot be banned and blocked. There will always be some sites available for the mischievous which they can misuse to satiate their pervert ambitions. The only way to lessen the impact and prevalence of such instances is vigilance and prompt action, for which the police need to be alert and technologically updated. It is unfortunate that despite all the progress made, our internet network in remote villages and small towns is still not up to the mark regarding speed and regularity, apart from power supply issues.

These lacunae hit efficient policing and cyber tracking that emboldens miscreants. Moreover, another advantage of cyber assault is that it takes time to locate the exact place from where a post is generated as it can even be from outside the country and then the process of tracking and nabbing the culprit becomes time taking and intricate. Also, there are legal loopholes and tardiness which further weaken cases.

We cannot do away with such problems easily but cops nevertheless need to be sensitised and kept well equipped and updated with latest technological innovations in policing. In cities, the cyber police cells have been doing quite a commendable job as they are very frequently nabbing fraudsters and assaulters by efficiently tracking them through their posts or on the basis of their communication pathway in the
virtual world.

Such advancements have kept the incidents of cyber assault under check as it has still not spiralled into a social crisis, even having the potential to be so. But with growing penetration of the internet and wider access to the media tools to the youth, chances of rise in cyber crimes is always lurking, which is why the police need to be continually cautious and updated.

Also, our children and womenfolk need to be made aware of the possibilities they face from unsavoury quarters and the provisions they have to tackle such onslaughts that threaten their dignity and safety. Safe and responsible use of the internet and social media platforms is a must, which many of us don’t know. We have to strike a very challenging balance between the promotion and enhanced use of digital technology in our day to day life, and at the same time also devising ways to safeguarding ourselves from the risks such adaptation poses before us.

We cannot shun technology but we need to have the capability to use it judiciously and with responsibility; only then we would have taken the full advantage of the benefits the internet world offers.  By the way, it is very easy to bring any good thing to regressive use and belie its value and utility but the sign of civilisation is how well we can avoid the pitfalls and negatives of a thing and how productively we can use the positives it has.