Safer Internet Day #SID2017 is a day to address emerging online issues like cyberbullying, hacking, catfish (identity theft), and educate users on how to reduce and manage online risks associated with the Internet. The Internet is an essential instrument in our #DigitalIndia infrastructure, however no one is immune to the risks associated with the internet and I have always stressed on the vulnerability of the digital space in our country. The number of cybercrimes registered has grown substantially with the increase in internet users (34.2 Crore as of 2016) in India. According to the data presented by the IT minister in the Parliament last year, since 2013 there has been approximately nine percent rise annually in the total number of cyber-crimes including fishing malicious code, website intrusion to name a few.
However, a strategy for a Safer Internet is not only confined to cybercrimes, it includes a plethora of other factors. Recently, in our first ever Consultation on the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, co-organised by the NCPOC, experts discussed the risk to children with easy access to explicit material online, including children who have been victims of Child Sexual Abuses online. Moreover, the internet users have been sharing explicit material of Child Pornography across the country and the statistics are alarming. Amritsar was reportedly sharing 4.3 lakh files, New Delhi was sharing 2.3 lakhs and Lucknow 1.7 lakhs, 3 cities in Kerala were in the top 10 as per information collected by Aarambh.
In addition to this, our country’s move to a digital economy using the existing Aadhaar infrastructure despite concerns over privacy and data security is unsettling. Also, it is essential to note that the day is referred to as ‘safer’ and not ‘safe’ which gives us a sense that the digital space can never be completely safe. However, as an MP dedicated to address the limitations in our digital space and policy, I think it is essential that everyone, including citizens, must employ safe practices to help protect themselves from the malicious elements that plague the internet.