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J&K Police to set-up a team of cyber volunteers to fight digital crime

Last Updated on February 8, 2021 at 7:24 pm

The Jammu and Kashmir Police is planning to establish a task force of ‘cyber volunteers’ who will have the responsibility to patrol social media platforms and flag posts which have “radicalisation” and “anti-national activities” elements in them.

Free speech activists and lawyers are apprehensive that this scheme will cut down more freedom of expression in Kashmir, legitimise vigilantism and divide an already polarised society.

Around three years ago, the Ministry of Home Affairs launched a cyber crime portal on the orders of the Supreme Court. This portal was handed over the responsibility to identify child pornography content and cases of sexual harassment against women and children on online platforms.

The J&K Police released a press brief on Wednesday. Through it, they asked netizens to “register as volunteer through a dedicated section ‘Cyber Volunteers’ on National Cybercrime Reporting Portal” which was relaunched on August 30, 2019 by the home ministry to include all kinds of cyber-crimes.

The J&K Police released a statement saying that any Indian citizen can get associate with this initiative by registering in any of three categories of Cyber Volunteer. Cyber Volunteer Unlawful Content Flagger- for identifying online illegal/unlawful content like child pornography, rape/gang rape, terrorism, radicalization, anti national activities etc. and reporting to government.

A senior police officer told The Wire on the condition of anonymity, that social media use among masses is consistently increasing and so is the crime. So, there is an “increased workload” in “resource constrained” situations. The cyber volunteers are recruited to act as an “extra set of eyes and ears” in the virtual world for the police force.

The officer said that these volunteers will increase the capabilities of the law enforcement and also help in trust building between the police and citizens.

Officials said that the volunteers will have to produce some mandatory personal particulars like full name, father’s name, mobile number, email address, residential address etc, identity proof and address proof at ‘Upload ID Proof’ tab in registration from.

Police will not verify those volunteers who sign up as ‘Unlawful Content Flagger’. However, police will verify backgrounds of the individuals who join as ‘Cyber Awareness Promoter’ or ‘Cyber Expert’.

J&K police stated the ‘Cyber Awareness Promoter’ will create aware citizens about cyber-crime including vulnerable groups like women, children and elderly, rural population etc. ‘Cyber Expert’ will handle specific domains of cybercrime, forensics, network forensics, malware analysis, memory analysis and cryptography among other.