WhatsApp refuses cops details on Pollachi sex-scandal videos

WhatsApp refuses cops details on Pollachi sex-scandal videos

Chennai: The Tamil Nadu police on Tuesday told the Madras High Court that mobile messaging player WhatsApp had declined to share details of the videos circulated in the Pollachi sexual abuse-cum-blackmail case.

The Tamil Nadu police had last month written to companies owing social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp asking for log details of the suspects in the case.

The government counsel told the court that non-cooperation by social media companies was making it difficult for the law enforcement agencies to crack cyber crimes.

Hearing a public interest litigation (PIL), the court asked whether the Centre should ban social media companies if they did not cooperate with the law enforcement agencies.

The government counsel told the court that many social media companies were yet to appoint grievance officers in India as per the provisions of the Information Technology (Intermediaries guidelines) Rules.

The court then ordered notices to companies owing social media platforms and adjourned the case for Thursday.

Reports of large-scale sexual exploitation of women by a gang reported from Tamil Nadu's Pollachi has caused widespread outrage last month. The police had arrested four men – Thirunavukkarasu, Sabarirajan, Vasanthakumar, and Satish – based on a complaint by an alleged victim, and were investigating if the accused were serial offenders.

The four men had on February 12 allegedly tried to strip the victim, a 19-year old woman, inside a car near Pollachi, over 500 km from Chennai, and had shot a video of the act and blackmailed her using the visuals.

The harassment drew widespread condemnation after a leaked video of the survivor, in which she could be heard screaming and resisting her assailants, surfaced.

According to the police, the accused would befriend women on social media first. After gaining the women's confidence, she would be invited to a secluded place and sexually assaulted which was also videographed. Later the victims were blackmailed for money or for physical submission. Some media reports claimed nearly 200 women were abused by the accused in this manner.

The case had received widespread media coverage in the state weeks before a general election, with opposition parties accusing the state government of "shielding" the perpetrators.