New Delhi: The cybercrime cell of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has reportedly started a new programme under which citizens can participate as volunteers to identify, flag and report to the government about illegal and unlawful content, including child pornography, rape, terrorism, radicalisation and anti-national activities on the internet.
Sources told The Indian Express that the programme will be piloted on a trial basis in Jammu and Kashmir and Tripura and that its scale would be calibrated depending on feedback.
Under this programme, the MHA’s Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) will act as a nodal point while volunteers can register themselves with their states or union territories to act as cyber volunteers.
The volunteers will be required to furnish personal details, including name, father’s name, mobile number and email address, although these will not be verified separately, according to a document seeking registration from volunteers.
The MHA’s portal, where one can register as a cybercrime volunteer, specifies that those who register cannot use this programme for any commercial gain or issue any public statement about their association. Volunteers are also “prohibited from using the name or claiming association” with MHA on any public platform.
The ministry did not respond to an email from The Indian Express seeking details on the reason for starting such a programme, how it would define anti-national content or activity, and what action would be taken against a social media account flagged as “anti-national”.
Cyber-security lawyers and activists have flagged concerns that the norms still leave a wide range of issues to be dealt with.
They also said the plan may end up granting extraordinary powers to volunteers to flag any content or person as promoting radicalisation or being “anti-national” without any onus or accountability. The government must first constitute a clear legal framework, they added.