India Blocks Over 800 Porn Websites - TechGeek365

India Blocks Over 800 Porn Websites

Internet service providers in India have blocked access to more than 800 pornographic websites, reportedly at the order of the government. The Hindustan Times, citing sources at India’s communications ministry, reports that ISPs were asked to block websites that were “found to be spreading anti-social activities.” Indian ISPs tell the newspaper that they received letters ordering the ban on Saturday, with the government’s Information technology secretary adding that the ministry was acting under “court directives.” Other sites are reportedly under review.

“Free and open access to porn websites has been brought under check,” a communications ministry spokesman tells Reuters. “We don’t want them to become a social nuisance.”

India’s Supreme Court declined to pass an interim ban on online pornography last month, following a petition brought by advocates who argued that crime against women was being fueled by easy access to porn. The court said it didn’t have the authority to issue a ban, saying it would violate constitutionally protected personal freedoms, though it did agree with the petitioners’ call for greater control over adult sites, and the case is ongoing.

News of the apparent ban began circulating on social media over the weekend, with users reporting that sites like YouPorn and Pornhub had been replaced with blank white pages. Others reported seeing a message in their browsers that read: “Your requested URL has been blocked as per the directions received from Department of Telecommunications, Government of India.” The full list of blacklisted sites, obtained by the Centre for Internet and Society think tank, includes 857 URLs.

A communications ministry spokesman tells The Financial Times that the restrictions are temporary, and that users with virtual private networks (VPNs) would still be able to access porn sites. “It isn’t that they are being banned lock, stock and barrel,” the ministry said. “The [Supreme Court] justice noted that free and open access to these websites…. should be controlled, but these sites will continue to be available through the mechanism of a VPN.”

The move drew swift outrage from Indian social media users, along with criticism from legal experts. Under the conservative government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India has sought to tighten its control over the internet, raising concerns over free speech.

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