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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

HT poll verdict almost evenly split on online porn ban

Hindustan Times  New Delhi, November 19, 2013
First Published: 22:55 IST(19/11/2013) | Last Updated: 23:10 IST(19/11/2013)

Should internet porn be preemptively blocked in India? It’s a close one, if we go by the results of an online poll conducted by HT.

Around 45% people think that the government should go all out in cleaning the web of explicit adult content, though they don’t statistically match up to the 51% who wish to keep visiting the tabooed corner of the web. The remaining 4% can’t make up their mind whether blocking porn is good or bad.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2013/11/HTResult_pornwebsites.gif

The results of the poll — undertaken by 2,884 people by 10:30pm on Tuesday — indicate that as a whole, the crowd is divided over the ban. The debate on whether such a prohibition will make a difference has been long drawn and complex. While some say porn is the reason for increasing crimes against women, others are of the view that blocking such content is hardly the solution. It is the conditioning of the masses that should be targeted, they argue.

Advocate Kamlesh Vaswani recently filed a petition in the Supreme Court pleading that while watching obscene videos was not an offence, porn sites should be banned as they were one of the major causes behind sexual crimes.

The apex court later issued a notice to the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) seeking its response on how to block websites with pornographic content, particularly those featuring child pornography.

While there seems to be a renewed activism behind the push for the ban, experts feel that blocking pornographic content online will not help. “Universal blocking of websites, search terms and content is a blunt and ineffective tool and can easily be circumvented,” Martyn Thomas of UK-based Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) told PTI.

If the government wants a blanket ban on porn, it needs to figure out just how much content there is on the web. While a popular finding illustrates that only 4% of the million most-visited sites host porn, the figure doesn’t explain the real scenario. Experts say because porn sites largely depend on archived content, it is the number of visitors that tells the real story.

BBC News recently quoted an article in Extreme Tech which shows that 30% of all net traffic is generated by porn sites. The study reached the figure by estimating the traffic a popular site generated every day. It then multiplied the figure by the “dozens” of other similar-sized sites it said were out there. If this figure is accurate, the content is just too much and too scattered for the government to subdue.

The HT poll is an indicator — though on a small scale — of the wide sweep of porn and how opinionated the public has become about its lifestyle being driven by our government’s policies.


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