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Citing morality and decency, government orders blocking of 857 porn websites, ombudsman on way

Porn ban: Officials claimed the government has merely complied with the Supreme Court directive asking for measures to block porn sites

By: ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi |
Updated: August 4, 2015 1:43:22 pm
porn, porn ban, porn ban india, indian porn ban, banned porn sites, porn ban video, porn ban india video, video on porn ban, porn in india, porn website banned india, india porn ban, porn websites ban in india, porn news india Porn ban: The Department of Electronics and Information Technology has issued the order. (Source: PIB)

The Centre, in an order issued Friday, blocked 857 websites on grounds of “morality” and “decency”. The action is related to a petition filed in the Supreme Court in 2013.

ALSO READ: Why Centre’s order to block 857 websites might not work

While in August 2014, the government had expressed difficulties in blocking pornographic websites, the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) Friday issued an order blocking 857 such websites.

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The action comes after a nudge from the Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu on July 8. The department also said that it plans to put in place an ombudsman to look into cyber content-related issues.

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An official with the DeitY confirmed that the department has asked Internet service providers to take down 857 porn websites. He added that the 17-page order lists the names of the websites and it has asked the telecom department to “notify intermediaries (ISPs) for disablement of the URLs in the list under the provision of Section 79(3)(b) of the IT Act 2000 as the content hosted on these websites relate to morality, decency as given in article 19(2) of the Constitution of India.”

Full list — all the 857 websites the government wants blocked

List of porn websites banned in India

The official, however, said this was a temporary measure till the final orders are pronounced by the top court. He added that the government has merely complied with the Supreme Court directive asking for measures to block porn sites.

The action is related to a PIL filed by Indore-based lawyer Kamlesh Vaswani in 2013, in which he demanded an action plan and an exclusive law to contain the proliferation of pornographic sites on the internet, especially in view of their adverse impact on children.

In August last year, the government told the court that many of these servers were located outside India. It said that when one porn site is blocked, another surfaces, and the magnitude of the task can be gauged from the fact that that there are about 40 million such websites with their other links.

The court had then remarked that ways would have to be devised so that the law is not always defeated by technological advancements.

Last month, the court asked if there could be a judicial order restricting such sites. A bench headed by CJI Dattu expressed its unhappiness that the sites had not been blocked. The government had then assured the court that all possible measures would be taken to block these sites.

The government official, however, said that since the issue is very complicated, the case must be heard in detail. The officials said NGOs, civil society, parental groups, ISPs and government should be involved and the court should frame guidelines after hearing all the views.

While DeitY has also proposed to put in place an ombudsman to look into cyber content-related issues, the official said, “The government must be away from this whole process (blocking of porn sites). On the issue of national security, terrorism, extremism, communalism, government will have the final say… beyond that, the social media divide comes into operation, let there be an ombudsman to take a call, like the TV ombudsman is there.”

He added that the ombudsman could be a retired SC judge or somebody from the civil society.

While the order to block porn websites faced flak on social media, with commentators calling it censorship of Internet, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the NDA government was committed to freedom on social media and Internet.

“I reject with contempt the charge that it is a Talibani government, as being said by some of the critics. Our government supports free media, respects communication on social media and has respected freedom of communication always… My government is committed to freedom on the social media and communication on the Internet,” he said.

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