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‘Porn Banned in India’ – Everything You Need to Know

Tech_News August 3, 2015

Over the weekend, many Indian Internet users on sites like Reddit and Twitter claimed that they were unable to access popular porn sites – the blocking seemed restricted to just a few ISPs, according to what the users were reporting.

Porn Censored

NDTV Gadgets was able to independently confirm that customers of MTNL and Hathway in Mumbai were greeted by a blank page when visiting websites like Youporn and Pornhub, but websites seem to be loading just fine on Airtel in Delhi, causing some confusion about why exactly sites are being blocked on some ISPs.

Now, it appears that the blocks are indeed taking place based on a government order, and it would appear that the telecom operators and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have been asked to block a whopping 857 porn sites, in what might be the largest blocking order ever, in India.

According to a report, an ISP confirmed that it received a list of 857 URLs from the Department of Telecommunications on Friday, July 31.

“It’s a list of 857 URLs. Most of the sites [on the list] are pornographic. I would say 100% of the sites,” a senior manager of an ISP, who did not want to be named, told Legally India.

Later reports have confirmed this with three ISPs all saying that the order was received late on Friday, which is why the blocks appear to be taking place in a slapdash fashion right now. The list of URLs that the government has ordered to be blocked is not available at the moment.

When more details of the 857 URLs that the ISPs have to block become available, it will be valuable to see how accurate and relevant this new list is. However, in the past few weeks, we have witnessed many URLs sites like YouTube and Imgur also being briefly blocked, so there’s clearly need for more transparency in this process.

Although there has been talk of banning porn websites in the country, the Supreme Court recently declined a plea to pass an interim order to block porn websites in India.

“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],” Chief Justice H.L. Dattu reportedly said last month.

Without transparency about whose orders the blocks are coming on, or what laws are being used for the blocks, we are left in a situation where any content could easily be banned. Today, it is pornography which is not a popular subject to publicly fight for; however these same laws could be used to secretly take down any kinds of content, which is why the entire process needs to be more transparent.

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