RS MPs' group discusses curbs on kids' access to porn

In their first meeting on Monday evening, sources said, the group felt that while the internet offers significant developmental and educational benefits for children but the growing access to the internet and social media also leads to increased exposure to unsafe content like pornography and potential risks of online harassment, abuse, and exploitation. Representative image/Pixabay

Amid concerns over the misuse of internet and to influence a change in mindset, an informal group of Rajya Sabha MPs formed by Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu has held its first meeting to suggest ways to regulate children's access to pornography in cyberspace.

Fourteen MPs from 10 political parties were chosen to be part of the informal group after AIADMK MP Vijila Satyanath on Thursday raised the issue of child pornography on the internet through a 'Zero Hour' submission.

Naidu had then formed the group with MPs Jairam Ramesh, M V Rajeev Gowda and Amee Yagnik (Congress), Vinay P Shasrabuddhe, Rajeev Chandrashekar and Roopa Ganguly (BJP), Derek O'Brien (TMC), Tiruchi Siva (DMK), Vijila Sathyanath (AIADMK), Jaya Bachchan (SP), Vandana Chavan (NCP), Amar Patnaik (BJD), Kahkashan Perween (JDU) and Sanjay Singh (AAP) as members.

In their first meeting on Monday evening, sources said, the group felt that while the internet offers significant developmental and educational benefits for children but the growing access to the internet and social media also leads to increased exposure to unsafe content like pornography and potential risks of online harassment, abuse, and exploitation.

They raised concern over the generation of online Child Sexual Abused Materials (CSAM) which is accessed by anyone on the internet. UNICEF India categorises CSAM as child pornography, sextortion and revenge pornography.

One of the MPs who was part of the consultations said that they were looking at a long term action plan to ensure that Hyderabad-like incident does not happen.

"Children may develop wrong notions if they are exposed to things like pornography. These kinds of things change their understanding. We want to change their mindset," the MP said.

The group, which has briefed Naidu about the outcome of their first meeting, has decided to consult stakeholders, which include civil society groups, parent groups, government agencies like Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), regulators like TRAI, National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, internet service providers, content publishers, social media companies like TikTok, WhatsApp, Google, Facebook, Share Chat and Microsoft.

Naidu had asked the group to give concrete suggestions so that he could advise the Minister of Communications and IT and Minister of Information and Broadcasting for consideration on "this important issue", sources said.

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