How we can make the digital space safer for all, particularly women

Source– The post is based on the article “How we can make the digital space safer for all, particularly women” published in The Indian Express on 15th November 2022.

Syllabus: GS1- Society

News– The article explains the need to focus on safety tools and features across digital platforms

What are the reasons for increasing vulnerability of women in digital space?

India has one of the youngest youth demographics in the world and among the most active online. Increased online interactions lead to more content which is shared among people. Sometimes, these interactions also make them vulnerable to harm. Women are often particularly vulnerable.

Private pictures of young women are leaked online. Sometimes it is from a hacked account, other times because of a soured relationship.

It should be no surprise that young men and women are exploring new ways to express their sexuality through sharing intimate images.These new social norms have created new forms of abuse where women are usually the victims.

What are the reactions to such abuses?

Crimes that disproportionately impact women devolve into mass panic . This reaction ends up denying women their freedom and agency by their so-called “protectors”.They advise women to go offline, to be ashamed of expressing themselves.

What are the efforts by various stakeholders for online safety of women?

Leading academics are spearheading research around the topic to discuss the evolution of technology-facilitated abuse.

New IT rules have shown concern regarding the safety and security of users, particularly women and children.

With the overhaul of the IT Act, there is an opportunity to discuss in detail the nature of technology-facilitated abuse. This could be the start of an era of evidence-based discussion.

What is the way forward?

Industry, also, has a role to play. If platform providers could be more responsive to the concerns and experiences of women then, it can help mitigate such issues.

Platforms need to design choices that help women stay in control of who they engage with. They should leverage open source technology that detects and blurs lewd images so that women don’t need to see unsolicited pictures.

We need to focus on safety tools and features across the spectrum of websites and apps .

Societal cooperation is needed. Public discourse around technology-facilitated abuse has to be elevated

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