India may have eased up on its porn ban, but it won’t be easy for ISPs to unblock sites

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The Indian government said on Tuesday that it will no longer block porn content on the Web, but will sustain its ban on child sexual abuse sites, reports India Today.

The country’s Information and Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told the outlet, “A new notification will be issued shortly. The ban will be partially withdrawn. Sites that do not promote child porn will be unbanned.”

However, Medianama reports that a letter to internet service providers (ISPs) states that they “are free not to disable any of the 857 URLs which do not have child pornography.”

This implies that ISPs will be held liable for content depicting child sexual abuse on the sites they unblock. But there’s no process for them to determine which sites host such content.

While I’m glad that the Indian government chose to lift its regressive ban, it’s still a shame that the decisions to censor content are taken without public debate and discussion.

In addition, these orders are implemented clumsily, to say the least. Web users aren’t notified about blocked content and there isn’t any process in place to appeal such bans.

And as in this case, reversing the government’s misguided move could put ISPs in the crosshairs if banned content shows up on sites that aren’t even hosted in the country. As a result, ISPs might hold off on unblocking sites indefinitely.

India’s Ministry of Communications and Information and Technology had ordered ISPs across the country to block 857 sites that hosted “immoral and indecent” content last Friday.

Thanks for nothing.

India’s porn ban hasn’t exactly been lifted: it’s conditional & up to ISPs [Medianama]

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