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Microsoft fights child abuse in India

Battling online crime

Microsoft has teamed up with ICMEC (the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children) and the global police organisation Interpol to help fight online child abuse in India.

The organisations are helping Indian law-enforcement agencies, such as the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation), in how to use technologies, tools and procedures for countering online child pornography and other cyber crimes against children.

Indian police came under fire recently after it emerged that two alleged paedophiles had kidnapped, sexually abused and murdered more than 20 children of laborers in Noida, in Uttar Pradesh. Parents say the state police didn't register complaints when their children went missing.

The training is part of an ongoing partnership between Microsoft, ICMEC and Interpol, which have so far trained more than 1,800 law enforcement staff in 94 countries, said Guillermo Galarza, a senior program manger at ICMEC, in a telephone interview yesterday. The training is focussed on the prevention and detection of online child pornography and other crimes against children.

The use and misuse of the internet have gone up hand in hand, and the internet is increasingly being used to exploit children, said Rakesh Bakshi, director of legal and corporate affairs at Microsoft India.

The NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) in Delhi reported that cyber crimes of all types in India increased by about 39 percent between 2004 and 2005, to 481. Many crimes in India go unreported, however, and the actual figure may be much higher.

Microsoft is working with federal and state law enforcement agencies. After a pilot training program for the CBI and the police in Kerala, the company plans to extend the program to other states in India, Bakshi said.

Microsoft and the ICMEC, which is based in Alexandria, Virginia, are taking a multi-pronged approach. They have tied up with more than 30 financial institutions worldwide, including credit card companies, to develop a system that will monitor and report online commercial transactions involving crimes against children, Galarza said.

For example, some websites offer downloads of child pornography pictures against credit card payments. The aim is to establish a fully operational system by 2008 that will allow banks to report these illegal transactions to the IMEC, Galarza said.

Microsoft also plans to work with non-governmental organizations and other agencies to educate parents and children about the risks to children on the internet, Bakshi said.

Most countries, including India, need better legislation to counter child pornography and other crimes against children, Galarza said. Microsoft and IMEC are creating model laws that countries could adopt, he said.


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