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Twitter, Facebook could face ‘penal action’ by NCPCR over adoption posts on Covid orphans

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has sought info on the origin of these posts, and given social media firms 10 days to produce an action-taken report.

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New Delhi: The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has written to social media giants Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Telegram over illegal adoption posts on these platforms for children who have been orphaned by the Covid pandemic. 

In its letter dated 13 June, the commission has asked these platforms to provide information about the origin of these posts, failing which it has warned of action. The platforms have been asked to furnish an action-taken report in the next 10 days.

Speaking to ThePrint, NCPCR chairperson Priyank Kanoongo said: “We saw social media platforms are not only allowing such advertisements of illegal adoptions but people are also revealing the identity of such vulnerable children and raising funds using their name, which is illegal. This time we have warned them and if they don’t fulfil responsibility of giving us these details, we will take penal action.”

The NCPCR, a statutory body under the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD), had informed the Supreme Court last week that according to data submitted by different states and union territories as of 5 June, as many as 30,071 children have lost a parent, and been orphaned or abandoned mostly due to the pandemic.

The commission’s action comes in the wake of several messages that have been circulating on social media for the adoption of ‘Covid orphans’ or children who lost both parents to the virus. 

ThePrint sent emails to the spokespersons of Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and Telegram but received no response until the publishing of the report.  

Also read: J&J products to Bombay Begums, ‘toothless’ NCPCR is no longer just another govt commission

‘Provide all information’

In its letter to the social media platforms, NCPCR has said all information about such posts including the IP address and origin of the posts and other relevant details must be reported to law enforcement agencies as well as the state commission or the NCPCR itself so the commission can recommend relevant action. 

“In case of inaction or non-reporting of the same from your end to the commission or to the law enforcement authorities, the commission will be compelled to take strict action against your good offices,” reads the letter. “This matter is of serious nature connected with the safety and security of rights of children in the country and must be treated with utmost commitment and priority by your good offices.”

The commission said it had also issued an advisory on 2 May against such social media posts as they give way to illegal means of adoption. The Supreme Court too has ordered action against NGOs and people linked to illegal adoption of such children.

According to the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, children who are found without support, orphaned or abandoned or lost must be reported to the ChildLine services, nearest police station, child welfare committee or district child protection unit within 24 hours. 

In its letter, the commission said it had received complaints on such illegal adoption on social media platforms that is in violation of the JJ Act. “Therefore non-reporting of such a child and placing the child in adoption without following due procedure is illegal and liable to punishment,” the letter reads. 

(Edited by Arun Prashanth)

Also read: Child rights panel accuses Twitter of ‘lying’, violating POCSO Act, files FIR


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