An adult can watch porn within four walls of his house, says Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court on Thursday raised an important question during the hearing of a petition on blocking websites circulating child pornography that whether watching porn in private within four walls of one’s house was an offence.

Petitioner Kamlesh Vaswani had provided a list of more than 800 websites circulating child pornography to the home ministry, asking for an order for them to be banned. Appearing for Vaswani, lawyer Vijay Panjwani argued in front of a bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu on Wednesday asking why no action was taken under the existing cyber laws.

To this, the bench said, “It is an issue for the government to deal with. Can we pass an interim order directing blocking of all adult websites? And let us keep in mind the possible contention of a person who could ask what crime have I committed by browsing adult websites in private within the four walls of my house. Could he not argue about his right to freedom to do something within the four walls of his house without violating any law?”

Panjwani also argued that the MHA’s lack of concern in this matter was exhibited by a non-filing of response to the said petition.

“The ministry will soon file a response to the petition and detail the action taken. All necessary steps under the Information and Technology Act will be taken,” said Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand.

Last year, Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI) had told SC that they were mere conduits of providing internet access to customers and could not ban certain websites unless they were asked by the government to do so.

“ISPs neither create content of any sort nor do they own, promote, modify or edit it. They are mere authorized service providers who provide customers access to the internet. ISPs are mere conduits and they cannot be made liable for the contents they do not own. It would be akin to making telecom companies liable for conversations people have on their network,” it had said.

“It is impossible for an ISP to block pornographic sites without orders from the court or department of telecom (DoT). While ISPs are legally bound to comply with all orders to block pornographic or other websites as suggested by DoT, the task of identifying such websites ought not to be left to ISPs who lack institutional and logistical capacity to do the identification,” the ISPs association added.

 

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