Specialised central police unit, use of technology to proactively detect CSAM: NHRC advisory

NewsDrum Desk
28 Oct 2023
New Update

New Delhi, Oct 27 (PTI) Replacing the phrase 'child pornography' in the text of the POCSO Act, 2012, with 'Child Sexual Abuse Material', use of technology to proactively detect CSAM and the constitution of a specialised central police unit to deal with such matters are among a slew of recommendations made by the NHRC in an advisory issued on Friday.


The Advisory for Protection of the Rights of Children against Production, Distribution and Consumption of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) has been sent to all states and Union territories, and the NHRC has sought an action-taken report in two months.

In the first part of the four-part advisory, the National Human Rights Commission has made a recommendation that "the phrase 'Child Pornography' in Section 2(1) (da) of the POCSO Act, 2012 should be replaced with 'Child Sexual Abuse Material' (CSAM). Terms like 'use of children in pornographic performances and materials', 'child sexual abuse material' and 'child sexual exploitation material' to be preferred over 'Child Pornography'".

The term "sexually explicit" needs to be defined under Section 67B of the IT Act, 2000 to ensure the prompt identification and removal of online CSAM, the rights panel has said in the advisory.


Considering the gravity of the offence, the current quantum of punishment for offences pertaining to online CSAM under Section 14 of the POCSO Act and Section 67B of the IT Act (seven years or less) "may be relooked or exempt the application of Section 41A CrPC by making appropriate legislative changes," it says.

"Intermediaries, including social media platforms, Over-The-Top (OTT) applications and Cloud Service Providers, must deploy technology, including content moderation algorithms, to proactively detect CSAM on their platforms and remove the same. Similarly, platforms using end-to-end encryption services may be mandated to devise additional protocols/ technology to monitor the circulation of CSAM. Failure to do so to invite withdrawal of ‘safe harbour’ clause under Section 79, IT Act, 2000," reads the advisory.

ISPs, web browsers and OTT players to ensure that pop-up warning messages are displayed for searches related to CSAM, the NHRC has recommended.


"A specialised central police unit in the government of India to deal with CSAM-related matters, including detecting CSAM content, maintaining its repository, analysing patterns, assisting investigative agencies, initiating the process for takedown of content and so forth, be established.

"It should consist of experts in identification and investigation of CSAM in order to focus on identifying and apprehending CSAM offenders both in dark web and open web and developing a comprehensive and coordinated response of investigation and law," the advisory read.

Every state and UT should have at least one specialised police unit for the detection and investigation of CSAM-related cases and the apprehension of offenders. The government of India will assist the setting up and equipping these units, for instance, through grants under the Modernisation of State Police Forces (MPF) Scheme, Police Technology Mission and Nirbhaya Fund, it added.


A national database of CSAM with hash values of known CSAM be created by the proposed specialised central police unit so that the required content be blocked by intermediaries. This should be maintained by the proposed specialised central police unit, the recommendation reads.

It has also recommended training courses for and sensitisation of officials and psycho-social care and support for survivors.

Survivors of CSAM should be provided support services and opportunities for rehabilitation through various means, like partnerships with civil society and other stakeholders. Psycho-social care centres may be established in every district to facilitate need-based support services and organization of stigma eradication programmes, it says. PTI KND IJT