The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has sought a response from Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) over a complaint regarding the use of Zoom — a video and audio conferencing platform — by schools for taking online classes of children during the lockdown.
The commission has received a complaint from social activist Abhishek Ranjan, citing numerous news reports questioning the safety standards of this application and cybersecurity loopholes due to which countries like the US, Singapore, Germany, and Taiwan have banned and restricted the use of Zoom.
Ranjan, in his letter complaint to NCPCR, said that though online classes are indeed helping these children in staying connected to the school, the concern is regarding the safety of the children while using such an application. The commission sought the guidance of CERT-In whether the Zoom app is safe for use in online interaction with children, such as in taking online classes by the school.
Taking note of CERT-In advisory dated April 2 enumerating the solutions for multiple vulnerabilities in the Zoom application, the commission asked it to clarify whether following these solutions will confirm the online safety of children, their identity and overall wellbeing. The commission also asked what are the measures in place to ensure that the schools, institutions, and parents using the app.
Responding to the commission, CERT-In said that in order to sensitize parents and children on the issue of digital safety, an advisory titled "Online Safety of Children and Parents" was issued on April 6 and "Safeguarding Colleges and Universities against Cyber Attack" were issued on April 10 for colleges and universities. The commission has also taken note that in recent times, there have been various reports on the harmful effects of few online apps and games on children.
Amid concerns over security flaws and privacy breach of users, the Ministry of Home Affairs has issued an advisory saying video-conferencing application Zoom "is not a secure platform" for private individuals and advised against use by government offices/staff for official purposes. The popularity of the video conferencing platform skyrocketed after the lockdowns and stay-at-home orders owing to the COVID-19 pandemic which laid bare the security flaws of the application.
(with ANI inputs)