8 Things We Learnt From The Open Talk On Cybercrime And Online Abuse

Pooja Maheshwary , 13 Jul 2020
Shveta Salve, Teena Singh and Malini Agarwal in support of the #IgnoreNoMoreOnline campaign
Shveta Salve, Teena Singh and Malini Agarwal in support of the #IgnoreNoMoreOnline campaign

So many of us open social media with some amount of dread. Tired of being on the receiving end of abuse, sexual harassment, stalking, trolling and many other forms of cybercrime. And all this while we’ve been told to “just ignore it”. But we’ve had enough.

To discuss the burning question—Can you really protect yourself from online abuse? We recently had an Open Talk by No Rape India, hosted by Lawyers Club India in collaboration with MissMalini‘s campaign #IgnoreNoMoreOnline. The panel consisted of Boss Lady Malini Agarwal, Actor Shveta Salve, Actor Teena Singh, Cyber Law Expert Dr. Pavan Duggal, Advocate Shreya Singhal and Vikram Chandra, Founder of Editorji Technologies. Read on to know some things that were discussed in this webinar.

**No Rape India is an organisation wherein volunteers work pro bono with a single goal of preventing rape and sexual violence. Open Talk is a platform that enables people to speak up and have conversations that need to be had.

1. What is online abuse?

Teena says,

Every girl gets attacked in her DMs irrespective of whether she is in the public space or not. It’s very common to receive abusive comments on the clothes you’re wearing, being told what to wear or what not to wear, etc.

Malini says,

The kind of abuse women are getting is from a place of male dominance, and that’s a scary space for it to come from. It’s not about who you are, how old you are, whether you’re rich, etc. Every woman faces it.

2. Why is discussing this topic the need of the hour?

Malini says,

We’ve always been told that if we ignore abusers, they will go away. It’s clear that’s not the case. We’re online more than ever before. We’ve forgotten that virtual reality is another version of the real world. We’ve chosen to live here and we’ll be here for a long time. We shouldn’t replicate the same mistakes we made in real life where we told the women in our life to ‘ignore it and let it go’. We have to stop telling ourselves to ‘let it go’.

3. How can one reduce exposure to abuse online?

Shveta says,

On Instagram, go to ‘Settings’, go all the way down to ‘Privacy’. It shows ‘Comments’. There’s a filter called ‘Hide offensive comments’. You can use this to filter out hateful comments. You can also use a manual filter by putting in certain keywords that usually show up. Add these keywords, and always speak up against the perpetrators!

4. How can I report online abuse?

Shreya says,

Write to http://cybercrime.gov.in and fill in a complaint online. Anyone can take this recourse from their home. Even if you take a screenshot of your complaint and send it to the perpetrator, it scares them into behaving. Internet education needs to be coupled with sex education. The fact that the virtual world is an extension of your real life, and that you have to be respectful online.

5. If the legal route doesn’t work, what other options does one have?

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YES! Well done @gujaratpolice_ @dgpgujarat 🖤🙅🏻‍♀️🙅🏻‍♂️ ▫️ VADODARA POLICE BOOKED YOUTUBER SHUBHAM MISHRA Today Vadodara City Police took suo moto action in respect of an abusive, threatening video which was uploaded and shared on Social media by Shubham Mishra. Police have detained him and initiated a legal process for registration of FIR against him under the relevent section of IPC and IT act Timeline: Mumbai based comedian Agrima Joshua's old video goes viral on social media in which she makes a joke about a @quora thread on the topic of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's upcoming statue. She is slammed for hurting the sentiments of the followers of Shivaji Maharaj. A few MNS workers vandalized @indiehabitat where the comedian performed her standup. Vadodara based Youtuber Shubham Mishra posts a video in which he hurls abuses, rape threats and gleefully describes how he wants to violate her (video deleted). Joshua on Friday evening tenders an apology and she says the video has been taken down. Comedian Kunal Kamra posts the video of Shubham Mishra and tags the @ncwindia to take action against him. The National Commission of Women writes to DGP Gujarat to take action. Vadodara Police arrest Shubham. See. It works. So the next time you are harassed SPEAK UP @ignorenomoreonline. #IgnoreNoMoreOnline ▫️ Repost: @ourvadodara @thenitinmirani #ArrestShubhamMishra @mumbaipolice @shubhamcybercop @ncwindia @swati_maliwal #malinisgirltribe #sexualharassment #trolling #abuse #stalking #socialmedia #accountability #rapethreats #mentalhealth #missmalini @studio7advertising @huzaifalightwalla @malinisgirltribe #womenssafety

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Shreya says,

The Internet has given people the freedom of speech, but not freedom of abuse. Each social media platform has a feature to report abusers. I think people should use this.

Name and shame the police, if they fail to take action. No one likes bad PR, especially the police. Put them on the back foot and make them take action and listen to your complaint. A lot of reform is needed to sensitise the police towards this issue.

6. Does reporting abusers really work?

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#Repost @missmalini • • • • • • For too long now trolls on the internet have been making our lives online a nightmare. Mean comments, unwanted DMs and threats have been making us feel uncomfortable and unsafe online. We’ve been ignoring it all this time but not anymore. @malinisgirltribe’s initiative #IgnoreNoMoreOnline is a campaign to end cyber crime and online abuse and make the internet a safer place for all of us. Come join us in our campaign by following us on @ignorenomoreonline. – @aryanadalal, Jr. Community Manager 💖 #MalinisGirlTribe #OnlineAbuse #CyberCrime #GameOverForTheTrolls #SexualHarassment #Abuse #MissMalini @studio7advertising @huzaifalightwalla

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Shreya says,

The legal provisions available for cybercrime are the Information Technology Act, wherein Section 66 deals with ‘computer-related offences’, and Section 66E deals with ‘violation of privacy’.

Pavan says,

Law enforcement hasn’t changed a lot since the 2000s. They’re very uncomfortable with dealing with cyber law. Getting a conviction becomes a great challenge, and far more needs to be done in this regard. The ground reality is that there’s a  lack of a user-friendly approach.

7. Why is it important to speak up if you face online abuse?

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Thank you for doing this @shubhamcybercop and thank you for the utmost support that you have shown me and the other victims of cyber bullying, harassment, trolling and so on. I just know that together we can put an end to this kind of crappy behaviour and make the internet a positive experience for all. The only thing we have to do now is to #IgnoreNoMore and thankfully, the process is fairly simple. Step 1: List out all the people you’d like to report. Step 2: Gather their virtual information and collect evidence for quick action against culprits. Mention URLs, usernames and attach screenshots of offensive material/posts/comments/DMs. Step 3: For Mumbai residents, you can email [email protected] and cc [email protected] (Visit https://cybercrime.gov.in for more information and other city email IDs) Helpline Number – 155260 Hours of operation: 09:00 AM to 06:00 PM Step 4: Once your complaint is submitted, you will receive a confirmation message in the portal itself. In case you have filed a complaint through the "Report and Track" option or the "Report Other Cybercrime" section on the portal, you will receive a SMS and an email with a complaint reference number on your registered mobile number and email ID. #IgnoreNoMore 🖤🙅🏻♀️🙅🏻♂️ #malinisgirltribe #sexualharassment #trolling #abuse #stalking #socialmedia #accountability #rapethreats #mentalhealth @malinisgirltribe @studio7advertising @huzaifalightwalla @missmalini

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Malini says,

It’s really empowering to see the number of women speaking up for themselves. Any big change comes from people wanting it and saying ‘Enough is enough’. Sure, the law’s tough and it may not do much, and the process is long. But, it’s important to know what can happen if we go down the legal route.

Teena says,

This one person had the audacity to send me creepy messages from his real account. Within 2-3 hours of me having sent the screenshots to @shubhamcybercop on Instagram, he put me on a call with the boy’s parents. They kept on apologising for their teenage son’s behaviour. Shubham has always taken instant action against these men.

Malini says,

We should have this conversation together. We should have it in the public eye. The system is not perfect and the only way we can bring about change is by joining forces. We can use technology to create a change. We at MissMalini want to take it upon ourselves to build a helpline to help with this. Do something, speak up, tell your story.

8. Key Takeaways

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This is amazing, thanks for sharing the process, very helpful 🙅🏻‍♀️🙅🏻‍♂️🖤 ▫️ #Repost @appunayar ・・・ അജിത്കുമാർ വിഷയവുമായി ബന്ധപ്പെട്ട് ബഹുമാനപ്പെട്ട ADGP മനോജ്‌ എബ്രഹാം സാറിന് ഒരു പരാതി നൽകിയിരുന്നു, തുടർന്ന് സൈബർ സെല്ലിന്റെ അന്വേഷണം ഉണ്ടാവുകയും ഇന്ന് രാവിലെ സൈബർ സെൽ ഓഫിസിലേക്ക് രണ്ടുപേരെയും വിളിപ്പിക്കുകയും ചെയ്തു. സൈബർ സെൽ ഓഫീസിൽ കൃത്യസമയം എത്തിയ ഞാൻ ഒരുമണിക്കൂറോളം അജിത് കുമാറിനെ കാത്തുനിന്ന ശേഷം അദ്ദേഹം എത്തുകയും ഉദ്യോഗസ്ഥരുടെ മുന്നിൽ വെച്ച് സംസാരിക്കുകയും ചെയ്തു. എനിക്ക് ആകെ ചോദിക്കാൻ ഉണ്ടായിരുന്ന ചോദ്യം എന്തിന് അങ്ങനെ കമന്റ് ചെയ്തു എന്ന് മാത്രമായിരുന്നു, സോഷ്യൽ മീഡിയയിൽ രാഷ്ട്രീയപരമായ കമന്റുകളും മറ്റും ചെയ്യാറുണ്ടെന്നും, സമാനായ രീതിയിൽ കമന്റ് ചെയ്തു പോയതാണെന്നുമായിരുന്നു അദ്ദേഹത്തിന്റെ മറുപടി, എന്താല്ലേ… !!! എന്തായാലും പ്രസ്തുത വ്യക്തിയുടെ കുടുംബത്തെയും അദ്ദേഹത്തിന്റെ സാമ്പത്തികാവസ്ഥയും കണക്കിലെടുത്ത് എന്റെ പരാതി ഞാൻ പിൻവലിച്ചിരിക്കുകയാണ്, അതോടൊപ്പം മറ്റൊരു സ്ത്രീയോടും ഈ രീതിയിൽ പെരുമാറില്ല എന്ന ഉറപ്പും അധികാരികളുടെ മുന്നിൽ വെച്ച് എഴുതി വാങ്ങി. പരാതി നൽകാൻ എനിക്ക് വേണ്ട മാർഗനിർദേശങ്ങൾ നൽകിയ മാധ്യമസുഹൃത്തിനും, ADGP മനോജ്‌ എബ്രഹാം സാറിനും, സൈബർ പോലീസ് SI മണികണ്ഠൻ സാറിനും, ജിബിൻ ഗോപിനാഥിനും & തിരുവനന്തപുരം വനിത സെല്ലിലെ ഉദ്യോഗസ്ഥർക്കും ഞാൻ ആത്മാർഥമായ നന്ദി അറിയിക്കുന്നു. I had filed a complaint to the Additional Director General of Police, Manoj Abraham sir against Mr Ajith Kumar for abusing me verbally on a public platform.Cyber cell did their investigation and I was called to their  office today .Though I reached on time, I had to wait for the accused for almost an hour.When he finally came all I wanted to ask him was why he did that n his reply was it was a random comment among the other political comments he made on Facebook. Whoa! But considering his family and financial situation, I withdrew my complaint, and he gave me a written apology claiming that he won't repeat it or disrespect any other women anymore. I would like to thank the media person who called me and helped me to lodge the complaint. My sincere gratitude to Manoj Abraham sir, Cyber Police SI Manikandan sir, Gibin Gopinath and officers from Women Cell, Trivandrum for helping me out. Thank you @kerala_police!!! #ignorenomoreonline

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Says Pavan,

Being quiet is an invitation to disaster. So, speak up. Report to the law enforcement agency and the service provider. Don’t be afraid of backlash or harassment. Report electronically if you don’t want to go to the police. Alternatively, report to the Cybercrime Cell or the State Police website. They allow for placing online FIRs. The more we report the better it will be.

Also, while reporting, it’s a good idea to capture electronic evidence. It’s usually transient and can be deleted later, so it’s best if you take a screenshot. Save the URL or HTML page on your own device. In case it’s a video, please save it on your mobile phone. Get everybody in your circle to report the perpetrator. The more people who report the same abuse/ abuser, it creates pressure on the service provider to take action.

Check out the video below to know all that was discussed in the webinar!

Do you have a question for any of us, about cybercrime, the law, what can be done, what the consequences are? Drop them below and we’ll be sure to find out.

We often have such conversations on Malini’s Girl Tribe on Facebook. Click here to join the group!

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