The Government Of India Just Banned Pοrn. Awesome.

Sometime last year, I shared a compelling TEDx talk highlighting why one should stop watching pοrn. While the talk is inspiring, enlightening and downright eyeopening; encouraging one to stop pοrn is far, far away than restricting someone from watching pοrn.

Even the Supreme Court agrees.

Just earlier this month, the apex court declined a plea seeking a ban on pοrn in the country.

The Chief Justice of India presided the bench that heard the plea and CJI HL Dattu had observed, “Such interim orders cannot be passed by this court. Somebody may come to the court and say look I am above 18 and how can you stop me from watching it within the four walls of my room. It is a violation of Article 21 (right to personal liberty).”

Dattu’s bench had further directed the government to decide in four weeks on whether or not to ban pοrn in the country.

Clearly, it seems, that the government has made up its mind, because they just banned pοrn in India.

Since late Saturday, users had been reporting on social media about unavailability of pοrn sites. Come, Sunday morning and #PοrnBan was the top trending topic on Twitter in the country.

While most users saw a blank page while trying to access pοrn sites, many users reported messages such as, “Your requested URL has been blocked as per the directions received from Department of Telecommunications, Government of India. Please contact administrator for more information.”

Sources from ISPs and the DoT confirmed by late on Sunday that the government, on Friday, had asked ISPs to ban a number of 857 URLs, most of which hosted content of pοrnographic or anti-social nature. Given the notice has just been issued, it is expected that all ISPs will comply soon enough. This list was prepared by ISPs after a meeting of ISPs with the DoT in September last year.

Interestingly, the industry is against the move, especially until the government comes up with specific definitions on what can be blocked and what not.

An executive with an ISP speaking to the Economics Times said, “After the government meeting, there was an internal meeting of Internet companies and we haven’t moved from our side. What’s nudity to one person might be art to someone else. The scope of what can be blocked has to be really narrow.”

Reportedly, the government has banned pοrn under the Section 69A of the IT act that allows the government to ban content if the government “is satisfied that it is necessary or expedient so to do in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign states or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to above”.

While section 69A empowers the Government to ban / block content, this decision seems legally shaky given that the ban has nothing to do with the sovereignty, integrity, defense, security or external relations of India. It doesn’t also practically help public order or prevent incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence.

Also, what about the right to personal liberty as per the article 21?

This government has developed a habit of issuing impractical, illogical bans and this one just adds to the list.

In the 21st century, in the world’s most democracy which also is one of the youngest countries in the world, if banning pοrn is how the government expects our country to progress, then we all know where our country is headed.

Expecting hard-line, conservative and non-democratic countries to issue bans like banning pοrn – a personal liberty – is not surprising, but India banning pοrn? Well let Indians tell you how they feel:

A ban on 857 most prominent adult sites does not mean all the pοrn will be inaccessible from the internet in India. We can also expect the government’s decision to be soon challenged in the court of law, but the fact that the government decided to go ahead and ban these sites makes for a very, very disturbing news.

 

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