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WhatsApp groups with several Indian users found sharing child pornography; company responds

Google removed these third-party apps from Google Play Store after a recent report.

  • Updated: January 9, 2019 10:42 AM IST
WhatsApp logo photo 805px

Update: WhatsApp has just issued an official statement which states that it “has a zero-tolerance policy” regarding sexual abuse of children. The company claimed that it has incorporated “most advanced technology” to combat such content and ban accounts associated with such content. WhatsApp has also responded to the requests by law enforcement agencies.

“WhatsApp has a zero-tolerance policy around child sexual abuse. We deploy our most advanced technology, including artificial intelligence to scan profile photos and actively ban accounts suspected of sharing this vile content. We also respond to law enforcement requests in India and around the world. Sadly, because both app stores and communications services are being misused to spread abusive content, technology companies must work together to stop it,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said in a statement.

An Israeli company has found new details on child pornography specific to WhatsApp groups involving several Indian users. The Israeli online safety startup AntiToxin Technologies which also published an investigation on child pornography two weeks back has now found that many Indian WhatsApp users and groups are among those globally that circulate child pornography on WhatsApp messaging service, ET reports.

TechCrunch recently noted that a number of WhatsApp groups are globally sharing child sexual abuse material (CSAM), and enabling commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEoC) via third-party apps available on Google Play. These apps helped the user discover such groups that often included ‘adult’ sections, and offered them invite links to join these groups by trading images of child exploitation.

Addressing the issue, Google removed these third-party apps from Google Play after TechCrunch’s report, but apparently, that’s not the case. As per an Indian cyber security specialist Nitish Chandan, these apps are still available online in the form of apk files via simple Google Search, if not on Google Play, TheNewsMinute reports.

Additionally, Israeli company AntiToxin Technologies’ CMO Roi Carthy also told ET, “We did, in fact, find Indian users and groups that were disseminating child pornography. I don’t have an exact number, but there was a considerable amount of participants with “+91” as the (India) international access code for the phone numbers that identified them as participants in these.”

The research was reportedly conducted only on public WhatsApp groups, where participants add themselves via an invite link. For such adult groups, WhatsApp invite links are said to be active, although the company claims to have banned as many as 130,000 accounts in 10-days.

  • Published Date: January 8, 2019 4:35 PM IST
  • Updated Date: January 9, 2019 10:42 AM IST