The Indian government says it has directed internet service providers and telecom operators in the country to block 857 pornographic websites.
The directive came after the Supreme Court expressed concern, over the home ministry’s failure to block websites, featuring child pornography.
An official, who does not want to be named, said the original petition, which led to the Supreme Court response in June argued that crimes against women and children were influenced by the proliferation of porn sites.
The official said the move was not a ban since several such websites were still available, and also through virtual private networks and proxy servers.
‘This is an interim measure as the government contemplates building up a regulatory framework, which could include various measures, including mass awareness”, the source said.
Telecom executives told local media it would take a few days to block all the websites.
Meanwhile, some users complained that the conservative and prudish move by the Hindu nationalist government ran counter to the Supreme Court’s position protecting the right of adults to access the internet.
“Watching porn is legal in India, although distribution and sale of pornographic material is illegal”, one of the users said.
Local media cited data from Pornhub, one of the world’s largest porn content providers as saying Indians were among the most “prolific consumers” of internet porn, accounting for 40 per cent of its 14.2 billion visits.
Ram Gopal Varma, Indian filmmaker, said that given its level of popularity, any government that embraced a ban on pornography would lose the next election.
“To ban porn, saying it will be seen by who shouldn’t see it, is like saying to stop traffic because there will be accidents,” he said.
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