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Why not hear them out first?

delhi Updated: Jul 02, 2009 00:51 IST
Neha Dara
Neha Dara
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

So, is it time to start writing odes in memory of Indian’s first pornographic toon, one that grew to become a much discussed and written about cultural phenomenon?

Probably not.

Since the domain is based out of the United States, the Indian government can only ask ISPs to block the website, and circumventing this is a simple matter of using proxy websites, a long list of which has already been created on savesavita.com by fans.

Then there’s the website ‘I Want Savita’ that seems to have been created just in readiness for this moment.

“Afraid your ISP may ban the site! What will you do then?” it asks, and then offers the solution: Sign up to have the daily pages sent straight to your inbox.

When will the government learn? Bans don’t work. Not on the Internet. All it means is you have to use one extra click to get to the content you want to read.

Similar instances in the past have shown that such attempts at censorship only serve to bring more publicity to the website in question.

An adult should have the right to decide what he can and cannot view, without causing any injury or harm to another.

Instead of blocking websites and taking this decision out of citizens’ hands, the government would do well to create awareness on using browsers to block websites in situations where parents want to make a home computer safe for children’s use.

The blocking of the website also highlights a gaping hole in the amended IT laws.

In an article published in The Hindu earlier this month, Sevanti Ninan had pointed out: “What about a right to be heard before the blocking? There is none.”

Cyber law advocate Pavan Duggal also pointed out that a ban without an opportunity to be heard goes against the principles of natural justice and the Supreme Court states that any such decision can be questioned.

Blogger and author Amit Varma says, “What’s worrying about this censorship is the absence of due process. We should know why a site is blocked, and the owners should have a right of appeal. The absence of such transparency is a bad sign for free speech.”