Government agrees to partially lift porn ban, only child porn websites will be blocked

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Following widespread criticism and outrage on social networking websites over the Department of Telecom’s order blocking 857 ‘porn’ sites, it appears that the government is now stepping back and partially lifting the ban.

IT and Telecom Minister Ravishankar Prasad has told a TV channel that the ban will be eligible only for child pornography websites. This means that the present ban is going to be partially lifted.

Prasad had reportedly called a high-level meeting today to discuss the issue following criticism even across foreign media. India was being projected as a backward country by many of these foreign media outlets. The meeting was attended by IT Secretary R S Sharma and Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, among others.

Interestingly, earlier last month, the Supreme Court had 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 asking why no action was taken under the existing cyber laws.

Prasad explained that the original directive was placed keeping in mind that same order.

“The instant action is basically in obedience to the observation of the Supreme Court where the court asked the department to take action on the list of alleged porn sites provided by the petitioner,” the minister said.

“The government compliments the dissemination of idea on the social media. We have launched the mygov platform seeking views of people of India on developmental agenda and lakhs of people are participating on this platform,” he added.

Jantakareporter.com was one of the first to break the story on the Internet, as several of the leading porn websites were suddenly blocked in India on ISPs such as MTNL Mumbai, BSNL, Vodafone and ACT, which show a blank page when connecting to these sites, or the message ‘Directory does not exist’.

A few websites also showed the message: “This site has been blocked as per the instructions of Competent Authority.”

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