A month-long covert online surveillance operation code-named P-Hunt_20.2 has culminated in the arrest of 41 persons from across Kerala on the charge of “seeking, collecting, browsing, and downloading” child pornography, according to the State police.
268 cases have been registered on the charge of browsing and downloading child pornography. Most of the arrested were found to be using all kinds of encrypted handles to upload and download such material and circulating them on social media platforms.
Many electronic devices and phones were seized from them. Some of the arrested include IT professionals.
The accused were identified and arrested with the help of Cyberdom (a specialised cyber police wing), Interpol, and other agencies said an official statement. Most of the seized material pertains to children between the age group of 6-15 years.
“The biggest impact of the pandemic, besides health issues, is an online crime. True, the lockdown has increased digital usage and this also spiked use in pornography, especially involving minor children.
Many think that these acts use will go unnoticed but they are mistaken. In many cases, it looks like a sickness that requires medical treatment as many are repeat offenders,” said Additional Director General of Police, Shri Manoj Abraham.
The officer added that many obscene pictures, videos captured were taken from Kerala, stating that abuse of children locked up in their homes was quite evident in many cases.
The police also found out that child sexual abuse material (CSAM) content was sourced from security cameras at homes, flats. The accused recorded images and videos of children from webcams.
Abraham said children spending more time on the internet have created a “perfect opportunity” for predators to take advantage of the pandemic situation.
“Pedophiles find it easy to target children who are spending more time online and are increasingly lonely or anxious because of the lockdown. In several online chat rooms, the demand for such content has increased drastically,” he said.
“Many children use gaming sites and social media to keep themselves entertained at home. However, these platforms are being exploited by criminal elements to get access to children.”