Internet Service Providers (ISPs) on Monday asked the Supreme Court to define pornography and wondered whether the erotic sculptures at Khajuraho can be termed so.
Two foreign tourists take a look at sculptures adorning a temple at the Khajuraho complex built in the tenth century under the Chandela dynasty. (AFP)
Claiming it wasn’t technically possible for them to block pornographic sites without court and government orders, the ISPs association submitted a reply to the SC on a PIL seeking a court direction to block such websites.
The petitioner, Indore-based Kamlesh Vaswani has contended porn sites were one of the major causes for rise in crimes against women.
Stating the term "pornography" was "amorphous," the ISPs said: "There is no unanimously accepted definition of pornography and the boundaries of the same are amorphous. Would medical or AIDS awareness websites be pornography? Would photographs of Khajuraho be so termed? One man's pornography is another man's high art," stated the ISP association’s reply.
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The response was placed before a bench headed by justice BS Chauhan. The court directed department of telecommunication (DoT) to file its response to the PIL within three weeks.
The court has sought a specific reply on the issue of blocking those websites featuring child pornography.
It further said it was impossible for the ISPs to carry out pro-active monitoring of the content in the absence of any mandate by the DoT. Service providers were obligated to block only those contents that were deemed objectionable to the government.
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"ISPs neither create content of any sort nor do they own, promote, modify or edit it. They are merely authorised service providers who provide their customers’ access to the Internet. They are merely conduits and cannot be made liable for the contents," the reply stated.
Blocking without a government or court order would tantamount to pre-censorship, ISPs claimed.
The Centre had earlier told SC that it was difficult to block international porn sites in the country and sought time to consult various ministries in order to find a solution.