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Delhi: FIR against app that uploaded pictures of women to harass and defame them

A Noida-based resident filed a complaint after her pictures, as well as that of several other Muslim women, were uploaded on an app without their consent.

According to Noida Police, the app uploaded pictures of the women to harass and defame them. An FIR has been filed at Sector 24 police station. While the app has been taken down by the host website, police are tracing the accused.

Delhi Commission for Women chairperson Swati Maliwal also issued notice to the Delhi Police, asking them to take action against those who put up photos of the women.

The application was created on GitHub, a popular hosting platform with a number of open source codes. When a user selected the “deal of the day” option on the home screen, it displayed the picture of a woman.

The app had posted pictures of several women, including journalists, sourced from their social media websites. The women targeted on the app alleged they faced threats, harassment, and ridicule after their pictures had been used without consent.

According to the complaint filed by the woman, “It was through Twitter I came to know about this website, Sulli deals, that had been created by anti-social elements. ‘Sulli’ is an abusive term for Muslim women. Pictures of me and many other Muslim women were posted on this website without prior consent. There were discussions of solicitation on it and I was mocked as the screenshots were uploaded on Twitter. I was also threatened with gang rape.”

As screenshots of the app went viral, COO of GitHub Erica Brascia responded on Twitter stating that the account has been suspended.

Vrinda Shukla, DCP Crimes Against Women, said: “This is a very serious crime and we are investigating it. The FIR has been filed against unknown accused. As part of the probe, we will be sending notices to the website in order to trace the accused. The digital footprints of the people behind the app will be traced.”

Police said IPC Section 509 (word or act intended to outrage the modesty of a woman) and relevant sections of the IT Act have been invoked in the FIR.

Speaking to The Indian Express, the woman said: “When I initially found out about the app, I thought it was a singular instance. Then I began scrolling and found many Muslim women I knew. I soon realised it was a depraved act by someone to target us through this app. It talked about selling women as deals. I filed a complaint because I want the accused to be identified. We have to fight back against such people because this is an unimaginable attack on our identities.”

Maliwal, in a tweet said, “Issued Notice to Police on a very serious matter of cyber crime where pictures of several Muslim women were displayed online without their consent and termed as ‘Sulli Deal of the day’. FIR should be registered and strong action should be taken.”

She also asked police to reply in a week, asking them for a copy of the FIR registered, details of the accused identified and arrested, steps taken to identify and arrest the accused in case of non-arrest, and detailed action taken report in the matter.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who is chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on IT, also tweeted: “Revolting. This is a cyber crime the @DelhiPolice should investigate & a misuse of social media to threaten women (which falls squarely into the agenda of Parliament’s IT Committee.) Will pursue further.”

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