Controlling distribution of obscene images on social media

The control of distribution of obscene pictures and videos on social media is seen as a major challenge because the posts are anonymous.

“We cannot have control over social media as most of them posting such things have a fake ID,” said Chief of Police Colonel Chimi Dorji. “Even our hands are tied because different social media are hosted in different countries and we don’t have contact with the servers to request them to not allow it.”

But he said police will crack down on the third person, the one who is taking and distributing obscene pictures. “Right now we cannot share the strategies because if they know what we are doing, than we may not be able to get hold of them,” he said. “If a person is caught for such act, the punishment will be quite severe.”

At the same time he acknowledged that individuals have rights and know what to do and what not to do and if police clamp down on such things there is always a chance of people complaining that their rights have been trampled upon.

They have not received any complaint as such but in the past year, they encouraged a girl in Bumthang, whose video got circulated while having sex with her boyfriend, to cooperate.  Police arrested her boyfriend and the person who circulated the video was charged.

He also said that, if any victim or family member of the victims lodges a complaint, the police will investigate.

Meanwhile Wangay Dorji, Chief of Licensing and Compliance, said that as the regulator their job is to monitor licenses. “If any license holder does any such activities, then we can take action because we sign license terms and condition and they have certain provisions,” he said.

“We cannot monitor social media and this is a global issue, not only in Bhutan.”

He said that if a compliant is lodged to BICMA, then they will look into it but they are never sure what they can do as they have not received any complaints so far.

He also said that if they see any criminal activity it is sent to police for investigation.

Talking about the licensee he said that, if anything is posted in any of the licensee’s page, then they have the right to do something. “Similarly, if anything is posted in any of the .bt websites than we can intervene, in the sense, as per the law we may block that website following the procedure,” he said.

He also said that, the cancellation of the license depends on the degree of the offence and the act clearly mentions the procedure of the gravity of the offence. Whereas in the social media, most of the users are anonymous, he said.

However, he said that if they are to investigate, then of course they can do it technically, but they don’t have the resources to do”, adding that, everything is happening through social media.

He also emphasised on right definition of pornography, which is nothing but a choreographed act basically to entertain people. “The one which is usually distributed in the country is not pornography,” he added.

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