Porn Ban: Government To Reverse Order, Will Ask ISPs To Filter Child Porn

04/08/2015 9:21 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
NEW! HIGHLIGHT AND SHARE
Highlight text to share via Facebook and Twitter
Hindustan Times via Getty Images
NEW DELHI, INDIA - APRIL 17: Union Minister for Communications and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad during an exclusive interview at HT Office on April 17, 2015 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Arvind Yadav/Hindustan Times )

The department of telecom has withdrawn the list of 857 websites it had asked internet service providers to ban in an order over the weekend, a telecom ministry spokesperson has confirmed to HuffPost India. The ministry will now disregard the list, which was furnished by a petitioner in a still-pending case in the Supreme Court, seeking a blanket ban on pornographic websites.

Instead, the government will now make it incumbent on internet service providers to filter pornographic content involving children.

"There was never a ban in the first place. We had only asked to restrict free and open access to some websites. It has now been decided that since the petition is about child porn, ISPs will be asked to block it," telecom ministry spokesperson N.N. Kaul told HuffPost India. Kaul added that ISPs will have to first compile a list of websites offering child porn and then seek the government's approval to ban it. Once the government grants the approval, they will have to implement the ban and submit a compliance report, he said.

Earlier in the day, telecom minister Ravishankar Prasad told PTI that the government will only ban child pornography.

The decision came after a high-level meeting Tuesday morning convened by Prasad, who had said outside Parliament that the government was not in favour of a blanket ban on pornography. The meeting was attended by IT secretary R.S. Sharma and additional solicitor general Pinky Anand, among others. It was Pinky Anand's interpretation of a Supreme Court bench's oral observations that led to the home ministry forwarding a list furnished by the petitioner Kamlesh Vaswani to the IT Ministry with directions to block. The move, seemingly carried out with a marked lack of scrutiny or critical thought, turned out to be an embarrassment for the government due to its ham-handed execution. The government ended up banning humour websites and other sites with no link to pornography.

Following an uproar on social media, the government has now calibrated the decision.

If this comes to pass, it will be the first kind of filter in India on content of specific nature that ISPs will be asked to filter. It will likely involve significant logistical challenges. Many countries have strict laws against child pornography.

Like Us On Facebook |
Follow Us On Twitter |
Contact HuffPost India

More On This Topic