India revives its porn ban by blocking 827 adult sites

India revives its porn ban by blocking 827 adult sites

The Indian government is reviving its efforts in its war on pornography this week by ordering telecom companies and ISPs to ban 827 adult sites from their networks.

This directive follows an order from the Uttarakhand High Court, which found 857 sites to contain adult content – similar to an order issued back in 2015. However, upon inspection, the Ministry of Electronics and IT  (MeitY) found that 30 of them didn’t host any pornographic content, and so the list was cut down accordingly.

The ministry informed the Department of Telecom (DoT) to issue an order to telecom companies and ISPs, which said:

… all the internet service licensees are instructed to take immediate necessary action for blocking of 827 websites as per the direction from Meity and for the compliance of the Hon’ble High Court order.

There are no definitive laws regarding pornographic content in India. However, watching porn in private is not a criminal offense. However,  storing or publishing images of child sexual abuse is punishable.

Plenty of users on Reddit are complaining that one of the country’s biggest carriers, Reliance Jio, is already blocking porn sites. We’ve written to Reliance to learn more and will update this story when there’s a response. In our extensive testing, we found a number of adult sites to be inaccessible.

In July 2015, the Indian government issued an order to ban 857 sites, and subsequently said ISPs could allow access to sites on the list that don’t host images of child sexual abuse.

While local ISPs may follow the order and block the listed sites, people are almost certainly going to find ways around the ban, such as using VPNs to access them.

India is not the only country trying to control pornographic content. The Nepal Government banned porn in the country less than a month ago. Earlier this year, Uganda started its efforts to curb adult content as well.

As we’ve previously noted, the move is misguided because it only makes porn difficult – and not impossible – to access locally. It’d make more sense to have mature conversations with young people about sex and sexuality, so as to help them develop healthy attitudes concerning the consumption of adult content.

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