Porn site removes city students’ pics

Porn site removes city students’ pics

Photos taken from social media sites appeared on an adult-content platform

Taking pictures from social media and using them elsewhere without the owner's consent is a punishable offence.

A collective effort by Bengaluru students has prompted a pornsite to delete their pictures, used without their consent, from its pages.

The pictures were online for about three months before they came to the notice of the students. 

Earlier this week, students from Ramaiah University were shocked to find their photos featured in advertisements and posts that portrayed them as sex workers. The pictures had been taken from their social media websites.
“Messages flooded the students’ WhatsApp class groups and other chat windows,” says Vivek, who was the first to write to the website to remove the pictures.

He found that the images were uploaded by a single user and informed the website accordingly.

“They replied saying they couldn’t remove the pictures as I had no legal authority. Then hundreds of students sent out mails to them, naming the user who had posted their pictures. This made the site authorities sit up and take notice,” he says.

This strength in numbers is not something everyone gets to use, especially as the subject of porn sites is taboo. “The girls had complained to the cyber police, but the wait for action was taking too long. Which is why we took matters into our own hands,” he says. The police have since taken action but many feel it was too late.

A young student from CMR University says she went through something similar late last year, but is yet to see action from the authorities. “My selfies were morphed with nude images and sent to me through a fake account. They said they would upload it on porn sites. When I threatened police action, they said they would retaliate with an acid attack,” she says.

She took screenshots as proof, blocked the account and lodged a complaint online with the cyber crime cell. She still hasn’t heard back from them. “I know of many others with similar experiences, all of whom have complained but seen no action,” she says.

Legal provisions

Lawyer Geeta Menon says women can file police complaints, and provisions of the IT Act and the Indian Penal Code can be invoked.

“It is imperative that the FIR be as exhaustive as possible with details about what, where, when and how,” she says.

IPC section 354C deals with voyeurism and 354D with stalking, while 66E of the IT Act, which provides for action against violation of privacy, can also be invoked, she says.

She explains that while 66E specifies that a violation of privacy is only extended if the image includes the “private area” of a person, a reading of 345C with its explanations places importance on the consent of the victim for dissemination of an image.

While she agrees that this may be due to inaction from the police she urges victims to file a case in the High Court. “Victims can also ask the court to redact their names and other identifying information in case they are unwilling to go public with it,” she says.

Where to report it 

Cyber crimes can be reported through the official portal -- cybercrime.gov.in. 

If you wish to get things taken down from social media, each platform has a redressal mechanism. But their protocols differ.

Instagram generally takes down accounts while Twitter takes down just the photos. 

Websites such as Pornhub have redressal mechanisms in place. 

Two techies arrested

On Thursday, police nabbed two techies suspected to be behind the cyber crime. Ajay Thanikachalam (37) from CV Raman Nagar and Vikas Raghotham (27) from Rajajinagar were arrested after police looked into seven complaints in connection with the uploading of students’ pictures on an adult content site.

Their devices were seized and cases registered under the IT Act. This particular case received media attention and prodded the police to act quickly.

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