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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Woman shares how she was put on sale online

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We call ourselves progressive. But are we really? Recent incidents of Indian Muslim women put on auction online on a notorious Bulli Bai app tell a completely different story. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that something like this has happened to the women of our country.

Remember Sulli Deals? To recall, nearly six months ago photos of Muslim women were uploaded on an app using the open-source platform GitHub. Similarly, in the recent incident too, photos of women (especially Muslims) were put up for auction on an app called Bulli Bai, which is no longer available.

‘Your Bulli Bai of the day is ….’

In the last few days, several Indian Muslim women have complained that their photos have been listed on sale on the said app. One of them was Khadija Khan, Journalist with Bar and Bench.

While we all started 2022 on a positive note, things weren’t the same for Khan. Sharing her experience she told BGR.in, “on New Year’s eve I received a notification that I have been tagged in a tweet by some ‘Khalsa Warrior’… when I opened it, it said, “Your Bulli Bai of the Day is Khadija”.”

“It had my LinkedIn picture on it. I reported and blocked thinking it’s some malicious bot or something but later I realised what it meant,” she further said.

“The first day I didn’t mention it to anyone. The second day I told my family and colleagues and they said they will support me if I wish to take action. So, currently, we are just proceeding with how to go about it,” Khan revealed.

Khadija Khan shared the Billu Bai poster image with BGR.in.

The account and the post have been removed from Twitter and the GitHub link has also been taken down.

“Even with the Sulli Deals fiasco last year, no arrests were made and now it has come to this,” Khan said. She believes that “if only stricter action was taken, we wouldn’t have been in the situation we are in today”.

Khan currently plans to take necessary action against the culprit. “I have spoken to my lawyer, and we have decided to take action. We are currently in the process of filing a formal complaint,” she said.

She believes that having a zero-tolerance policy for such behaviour and taking down accounts engaging in targeting women would be a good step to curb such instances in the future.

What Cyber security experts suggest

Cyber security experts believe, while the event has taken a political twist involving Muslim women and their safety, this can happen to any woman in the country, regardless of their religion.

Speaking to BGR.in, Satyajit Sinha, Senior Analyst at IoT Analytics says that it is difficult to curb such incidents since all of us are on the internet all the time. He said that these are “fraud auctions” conducted by cybercriminals to dupe users to steal money.

The trick isn’t something new, he says. “I remember when Tinder was launched, cybercriminals used to steal photos of women from Facebook to create fake accounts trick users for money,” Sinha recalls.

To combat the occurrence of such incidents, Sinha believes that “the government should place some check process for these apps, which should include a process to check if the app is genuine or not.” He also highlights that scammers mostly use the Google Play store to list such apps since Apple’s App store is developed with much stricter guidelines.

Internet users are said to be one of the reasons behind the occurrence of instances like Bulli Bai. “Social media apps such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and others offer options to keep our profile private, but unfortunately most of us do not utilise such tools and then complain of data leaking,” Sinha says.

“In most instances, these cybercriminals look for data that are easily available on the internet. So, users must ensure to keep their profile private and add people or followers they know personally,” he states.

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