In what should be the single largest attack on porn sites by the GOI, it has become known that no less than 800 URLs having explicit content have been banned across the country. Over the past one week, internet users had been reporting that they were not able to access some website. It was initially thought that ISPs were barring the websites over their network. However, it is now official that the Union Communication Ministry has banned these sites under section 79 of the IT Act for alleged anti-social activities.
The Porn Bug
Image Source : HindustanTimes.Com
India is one of the largest consumers of Porn in the world, according to statistics by world’s leading porn site Pornhub. Indians accounts for 40% of the total visits to its site. According to Indian daily newspaper Hindustan Times, Mizoram and Delhi are the largest consumer of Porn in the country and Sunney Leon is the hot favorite. This ban is therefore definitely a disappointing news for them.
The ban on the porn sites must have come as a relief to the beleaguered parents, who constantly worried about the character of their children being blighted, but it has also sparked a rage in the civil society. For one, the ban is seen in contradiction to the Fundamental Rights of the Citizen enshrined under the Article 21.
Secondly, the ban is seen as a gross violation of the general human rights to expression. Grosser than the infringement of civil liberties is the way the government silently sneaked the ban without giving public discourse a chance. The government made no formal public declaration before going for it. Activists worry that this behavior has opened a can of worms and in the future, the government can extend such a ban on those websites whose content it sees with disfavor.
Government vs. Supreme Court
Image Source : IndianExpress.Com
Whatever be the justification behind the government’s objective of putting a blanket ban on these 857 websites, the Apex Court of India has views to the contrary. The Court refused to acknowledge that an adult sitting within the four walls of his home and watching porn, whether on web or by other electronic media, was actually committing a crime. It remains to be seen that what route the Supreme Court takes on the issue of the current ban.
As for now, the Internet Service Providers seem less enthusiastic to cooperate with the government if the ban were to be extended. After all, there is no clear government policy behind what is sexually explicit and what is not, and the degree of body exposure that might be deemed as pornographic.