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India lifts controversial Internet pornography blocklist

Posted by malcolm on Wednesday, August 5th, 2015 at 12:47

The Indian government has declared that it will “partially withdraw” its decision to block more than 800 pornographic websites, following intense criticism of the move.

A 17-page government order, issued on 31 July, instructed India’s ISPs to block access to a list of 857 websites “on grounds of morality and decency”. In a bizarre turn, the blocklist also included French regional daily newspaper Le Dauphiné libéré.

A senior government official told the BBC that the ban did not prevent adults from accessing the banned sites, apparently on the basis that they could do so via a VPN.

There is no total ban. This was done in the backdrop of Supreme Court’s observation on chil-dren having free access to porn sites. The idea is also to protect India’s cultural fabric. This will not prevent adults from visiting porn sites.

It is a temporary arrangement. The telecommunications depart will eventually come up with a long term policy…

The decision was widely criticised, with bestselling Indian novelist Chetan Bhagat tweeting:

Porn ban is anti-freedom, impractical, not enforceable. Politically not very smart too. avoidable. Let’s not manage people’s private lives.
— Chetan Bhagat (@chetan_bhagat), August 3, 2015

But today the government announced that it would partially lift the ban. Information and Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told India Today TV:

A new notification will be issued shortly. The ban will be partially withdrawn. Sites that do not promote child porn will be unbanned.

For more information, see:

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