Govt should withdraw vague order on porn sites, say Internet Service Providers

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Even as the Indian government now says Internet Service Providers are free to unblock the list of 857 ‘porn’ sites it gave to them unless they include child pornography, the industry body of ISPs on Wednesday said the directive is ‘vague and unimplementable’ and must be withdrawn.

ISPs say the government should withdraw its earlier order on banning porn sites and the subsequent directive that ISPs are “free not to disable any of the 857 URLs”.

“We submit that direction given above is very vague and unimplementable, as ISPs have no way or mechanism to filter out child pornography from URLs and further unlimited sub links of the said URLs in different – different name,” said a letter written by the ISPs body, which has 50 members, to the telecom secretary.

“Sir, we are totally against online child pornography as well as abuse on women,” the letter added while assuring that the ISPs would continue to follow all norms.

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

“We want a specific direction from the licensor, not an open ended one, where the onus lies on us of the website that are not owned by us,” ISPAI president Rajesh Chharia said.

Interestingly, earlier last month before the ban, 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.

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