Rajya Sabha: Adhoc committee formed to study issues related to online pornographic content

PTI

RS Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu in The Rajya Sabha (RSTV Grab)

RS Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu in The Rajya Sabha (RSTV Grab)

The informal group of MPs constituted to study issues related to pornographic content on internet and social media platforms will be converted into an adhoc committee, announced on Thursday.

He also said the committee will submit a report on the matter within a month.

The group, with Congress MP Jairam Ramesh as coordinator, was formed by the chairman on December 5.

“On the December 5, 2019, I had announced in the House the constitution of an informal group. The group has held several meetings. “However, Jairam Ramesh, the coordinator of the informal group, met me and explained certain logistics problems being faced by the group being an informal one. I have considered the matter and decided to form an adhoc committee with the same composition,” Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu told the Upper House.

The group had 14 MPs from 10 parties and was studying issues related to pornographic content on internet and social media platforms and its effect on children.

Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, however, clarified that the adhoc committee will submit its report in a month’s time which is not going to be extended.

The committee will hold discussions on “the alarming issue of pornography and social media and its affect on children and society as a whole” with all the concerned, he said.

It will “submit a report within one month from today and it will not be extended under any circumstances”, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said.

Ramesh will continue to be the chairman of the adhoc committee and rules relating to the Select Committee on Bill shall apply to this panel also, he said.

The members of the group include Amar Patnaik, Amee Yajnik, Dola Sen, Jaya Bachchan, Kahkashan Perween, Rajeev Chandrashekar, MV Rajeev Gauda, Roopa Ganguly, Sanjay Singh, Tiruchi Siva, Vandana Chavan, Vijila Sathyanath andVinay P Shasrabuddhe.

The MPs will look into the issue of regulating access of children to pornography on the Internet and it has decided to hold deliberations with law enforcement agencies, TRAI and social media giants such as WhatsApp and Facebook.

On November 28, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu had asked Congress MP Ramesh to form a committee comprising lawmakers from across party lines to suggest concrete steps to curb pornography on social media and other Internet platforms which is adversely affecting children.

Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu’s suggestion came after AIADMK MP Vijila Sathyananth raised the issue in the House.

Sources said the group has decided that it will consult civil society groups, experts, parents and government agencies like the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) and law enforcement agencies on this sensitive issue.

It will also hold deliberations with telecom regulator TRAI, National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and social media companies such as Bytedance (TikTok), WhatsApp, Google, Facebook, Sharechat and Microsoft, the source added.

The group noted that the Internet offers significant developmental and educational benefits for children but the growing access to it and social media leads to increased exposure to unsafe content like pornography and potential risks of online harassment, abuse and exploitation.