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Porn Sites Banned: Individual Rights Tested Again?

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Porn Sites Banned: Individual Rights Tested Again?


The Indian government has ordered Internet service providers in the country to block hundreds of pornographic websites temporarily. The obvious question is – has the Modi government once again impinged on the personal liberty of Indians?

 

The government of India has banned access to at least 857 websites it considers pornographic. By order no. 813-7/25/2011-DS (Vol.-V), the department of Electronics and Information Technology has asked the Department of Telecom to notify internet service providers to block access to 857 URLs, under the provision of Section 79(3)(b) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 as the content hosted on these websites relate to morality, decency as given in Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India.

 

The confidential order dated July 31, 2015 addressed to all Internet service licensees asks for the “disablement” of 857 URLs” under “the provision of section 7913)(b) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 as the content hosted on these websites relate to morality, decency as given in Article 19(2)of the Constitution of India.”

 

But not all the websites in the list of 857 can actually be classified as pornographic websites. The list includes the likes of College Humor that is a popular comedy website and 9GAG, a social sharing website.

 

The ISPs have been directed to “take necessary action as per the direction of the DeitY (Department of Electronics and Information Technology)” and have been prevented from reproducing the compliance letter with instructions to keep the contents of the letter confidential. Many of the websites listed have also been blocked in previous instances.

 

This latest attempt by the government to censor Internet content in India first spread via a Reddit thread titled, “Are porn sites getting blocked?” and then the word of the porn ban spread via social networking services.

 

Last month, the Supreme Court had issued declined to block pornography websites in India and Chief Justice of India (CJI) HL Dattu too observed that banning the watching of pornography at home would be a violation of Article 21, the Right to Personal Liberty.

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