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The Horror of Halloween: India’s Porn Ban kicks in

Talking about ghosts of the past… the Department of Telecom has – once again – implemented a ban on over 800 pornographic websites. Resurrected from the (somewhat) tightly shut and forgotten crypt of 2015, the Uttarakhand High Court ordered the IT Ministry to enforce the ban of 857 porn websites earlier this month. Bear in mind that the ban was implemented to “avoid adverse influence on the impressionable mind of the children.”

Internet service providers which did not comply with the order would have their licenses terminated, the court said. We’d pointed out in the past that this order was vaguely worded and that it was up to the ISPs to implement it.

Uttarakhand HC: Acting on its own accord

The Uttarakhand High Court acted on its own to revive the order — it issued this order suo motu. Pointing to rape incidents, the court argued that porn access was key in enabling such behaviour. The order does not mention that the government withdrew its 2015 circular, nor does it cite any evidence for the link between consumption of pornography and the perpetration of sexual assault.

Also read: Indian Govt’s order to block porn in India fails the “Clear and Present Danger” test

Pornhub creates a different website for Indian users

Scroll reported that some users could access the banned websites by using the mobile browser UC Browser. The publication also seems to have spoken with Pornhub’s Corey Price who said that Pornhub (which is among the blocked sites) had become a scapegoat for a problem whose solution the Indian government could not find. Price added that the online porn service had ‘compliant parental controls, a non-consensual take down page, and a strict terms of service.’ Naturally, Pornhub, not wanting to lose out on its Indian connoisseurs (their words, not mine!) launched a mirror website on a different domain.

Meanwhile, the Indian Express, created a public service document by listing all the 857 banned websites.

Here are some of the known instances of the Indian Government trying to block porn

  • In September 2017, MeitY roped in the DoT to help in implementing its order of blocking online Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) in the country.
  • In December 2015, the Supreme Court sought the central government’s view on setting up a pan-India agency which would look into increased proliferation of rape videos and child pornography shared via WhatsApp and Facebook groups.
  • In September 2015, the Supreme Court Women’s Lawyers Association filed for an intervention in the Kamlesh Vaswani vs Union of India case (which sought to impose a ban on all pornographic sites in India) to implement laws which would prohibit the distribution of porn and blocking of all porn sites.
  • In August 2015, the Government of India washed its hands off the order and passed it to the DoT saying again and again, that it didn’t want to do moral policing.
  • Since we’re really digging this up, in June 2013, the DoT directed ISPs to block 39 websites that allowed users to share pornographic content.

Some porn-related reads

Here’s some MediaNama porn for you guys.

Written By

I'm a MediaNama alumna from 2015-16 (remember TinyOwl?) now back to cover e-services like food and grocery delivery, app based transport and policies, platforms and media in India.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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