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Indian government asks ISPs to block over 800 porn websites: Report

Over the weekend, many Indians woke up to the new reality that they might not be able to access most of the popular porn websites. When they did try, they got an error message suggesting the Indian go

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Over the weekend, many Indians woke up to the new reality that they might not be able to access most of the popular porn websites. When they did try, they got an error message suggesting the Indian government had asked the Internet Service Provider (ISP) to block the site. While the government hasn’t come out clean whether it has issued a directive to block any websites, reports are now emerging that a list of more than 800 websites was indeed passed on to ISPs to block users from accessing them.

The blockade is a result of a PIL being currently held in the Supreme Court that seeks the government to block citizens from accessing pornography on the Internet. Initially, the government had shown its inability to block pornographic websites completely without censoring the Internet, however, in November last year it tasked the Internet And Mobile Association of India to curate a list of pornography websites that could be passed on to ISPs.

The list, containing over 800 websites, has been handed over to ISPs by the government under Section 79 of Information Technology Act, HT reports. The act is related to liabilities of intermediaries including cases where they are involved in transmission of communication.

However, the move seems to be in contrast to Chief Justice HL Dattu, who while hearing the PIL last month had questioned the implication of the ban with respect to Article 21. “Such interim orders cannot be passed by this court. Somebody may come to the court and say look I am above 18 and how can you stop me from watching it within the four walls of my room. It is a violation of Article 21 [right to personal liberty],” he had then observed. But he had also asked the government to come up with its reply within four weeks.

The blockade hasn’t been enforced throughout the country and it is only certain users in some circles on a handful of ISPs that are reporting about not being able to access porn websites. But it seems more so because the directive was given late on Friday evening. It is expected to get into full effect over the next couple of days.

The move, however, means little as it is very easy for a determined person to circumvent the blockade. Users could use VPN or proxies to access them. Since the blockade has been implemented by blocking URLs, the websites could themselves resurface under a different URL.

According to PornHub, one of the most popular porn websites in the world, India was the fourth largest country for visitors who accessed the site from mobile phones. Heck, how can we forget the case where legislators were found viewing porn on their mobile phones while attending an assembly session!

Photo: List of most searched porn stars on PornHub from India