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In its latest move, Indian government has asked the various Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to create a blueprint, upgrade their infrastructure and implement a nationwide ban on porn related websites.

In a meeting held in September, Telecom & IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and top government officials the “problem of porn” was discussed and the minister directed the departments of IT and telecom to work together to improve “blocking infrastructure” at the ISP level, says a report by ET.

To start with, the government has asked IAMAI to curate the list of pornography sites especially those hosting child porn, and provide that to Internet service providers (ISPs) to block.

Earlier this year, the Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI) had told the Supreme Court that it’s not possible for them to ban the porn websites, without government support. In their affidavit, it stated, “It is impossible for an ISP to block pornographic sites without orders from the court or the department of telecom (DoT). While ISPs are legally bound to comply with all orders to block pornographic or other websites as suggested by DoT, the task of identifying such websites ought not to be left to ISPs who lack institutional and logistical capacity to do the identification.”

Ravi Shankar Prasad said although porn is legal in other countries, it needs to be viewed in the “context of Indian culture and moral obligation towards society”.

According to the law viewing pornography in private is legal in India although hosting and transmitting porn is punishable.

This means that while an Indian citizen is barred from producing, distributing or publishing pornographic material in any manner, but a person will be completely within the rights while accessing it in his personal capacity.

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There are no laws that permit or prohibit internet porn in particular, it is not banned unless it involves sexually explicit depictions of minors.

According to the Information Technology Act – browsing, creation, downloading and publication of child porn is illegal in India.

There have been several instances, where the Government of India had blocked certain websites which include blocking of a popular erotic web comic Savita Bhabhi, in  2009. In June 2013, a series of online forums and image boards with pornographic content, though some of the blocked websites also had non-pornographic content.

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According to the estimates of the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team ,there are more than 40 Mn porn websites around the world and maximum of these are operated outside of India where porn is legal. Adding on, there number of ways to view the blocked websites. Such as in 2009, a website which hosted porn-toon portraying the sexual adventures of a housewife was banned by the government, but still the content from the site is still widely accessible.

Thus, it will not be an easy task for the government to ban these sites.

With this, if a large number of websites are blocked the latency of Internet access would go up; India already has the lowest average Internet speed among the most of the countries. Thus, this action requires ISP infrastructure to be upgraded so as to deal with large-scale website blocking.

As said by Arvind Gupta, head of BJP’s information technology cell that a solution may need to be worked out to prevent the availability of pornography on the Internet considering the cultural sensitivities of the country. It’s strange that now the government is deciding what we should access and shouldn’t access on the internet. Is internet freedom still not the basic human right in the country?

Ravi Shankar Prasad says that this issue should be handled in consideration of India’s culture and our moral obligation towards society. Is India not the one which gave birth to Kamasutra?

What do you think about this latest move of the government? Will banning of porn on the internet will really help in any way? Will it reduce sexual violence like rapes in the country?

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