Culture

Govt. Dials Back on Order to Ban All Porn

The government has dialled back its order to ban 857 websites in India for supposedly hosting pornographic content following a public outcry since August 1, when the order was enforced by ISPs. According to various reports, the Centre was reviewing its order and mulling a ban only against websites hosting child porn and an undefined category it calls ‘extreme sex’, with a new order to be issued to ISPs soon.

At the same time, unnamed government officials have stated that the partial revocation is only temporary, so that the government remains within the Supreme Court’s directive to tackle only access to child porn on the Internet, not any other forms of porn. The officials also added that the government would await a more rigorous and permanent set of guidelines developed with civil society, ISPs and NGOs concerning a rationale to block access to allegedly offensive content.

Earlier, the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) had submitted the list of the 857 websites – including that of the French newspaper Le Dauphine – to ISPs on July 31 (Friday), based on powers granted under Section 79(3)(b) of the Information Technology Act 2000. Over the following weekend, users on Reddit began to notice the sites going down; by Monday, the full extent of the blockade was in effect.