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Ban on porn? Many adult sites inaccessible from Indian ISPs

Many Indian porn lovers woke up to a rude shock on Sunday morning: On most internet service providers (ISPs) – including Vodafone, MTNL, ACT, Hathway and BSNL – porn sites were inaccessible.

india Updated: Aug 03, 2015 21:16 IST
Abhishek Saha
Teenagers-in-India-have-easy-access-to-pornography-and-watching-too-much-porn-could-lead-to-troubled-sexual-behaviour-in-the-future-say-experts-Shutterstock
Teenagers-in-India-have-easy-access-to-pornography-and-watching-too-much-porn-could-lead-to-troubled-sexual-behaviour-in-the-future-say-experts-Shutterstock

Many Indian porn lovers woke up to a rude shock on Sunday morning: On most internet service providers (ISPs) – including Vodafone, MTNL, ACT, Hathway and BSNL – porn sites were inaccessible.

The matter came to light late on Saturday, when a number of internet users across the country could not access pornographic websites. On searching for popular porn sites Pornhub and Redtube, all they ended up on were blank pages.

Porn watchers who couldn’t access the sites took to social media platforms like Twitter and Reddit to bring the matter to light.

One Reddit user posted a shot of his screen with a message that said the particular porn site was “blocked as per the directions received from Department of Telecommunications, Government of India”.

When HT asked Vodafone users across country, they confirmed that porn sites weren’t opening.

Vodafone users in Delhi said on searching for popular porn sites, they ended up on a blank page.

“When I checked last night it was opening fine, but this morning it seems all the popular porn sites are blocked,” said a Vodafone user from Kolkata. The user said porn sites were also not accessible on Alliance Broadband service in Kolkata.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2015/8/screenshot_porn.jpg

Many users across the country told HT about landing up on a blank page. (HT File Photo)



A Hathway Broadband user from Delhi told HT that on searching for Redtube.com and Pornhub.com, he too ended up on blank pages.



Another BSNL user from Chennai said no porn sites were opening on his phone through a 3G connection.



ACT Broadband service users from Bangalore and Hyderabad and MTNL users in Delhi and Mumbai said they too were receiving blank pages on trying to access porn sites.



However, Airtel, MTS and Tikona users told HT that porn sites were smoothly accessible.



HT wrote emails to Vodafone and Department of Telecommunications seeking an official response, and reply is awaited.



Social media users react strongly



A conversation thread titled "Are porn sites getting blocked?" started on Reddit India and the hashtag #PornBan became a top Twitter trend on Sunday morning.



Angry posts criticised service providers for blocking porn sites and satirical comments questioned what people would do with their "unlimited" data plans when internet porn is banned. Some even pointed fingers at the Hindu right political leadership of the country, alleging their conservative mindset was behind the development.



"Gonna change my subscription to the cheapest plan if this continues," wrote user yes_darling on Reddit. Another user, AlcoholicStowned, wrote, "RSS takeover of India has begun. Your right to fap is forbidden."



Some users sought answers from ISPs, and others asked if it was indeed a state-backed step.



The conversation on Twitter was divergent, with some supporting the blocking and other ridiculing and criticising the step.

Can India ban porn?



According to data from Pornhub, one of the world’s largest porn sites, Indians are among the most "prolific consumers" of internet pornography. Mizoram consumes most porn and Delhi finishes a close second, the data revealed, adding that Canadian-Indian actress Sunny Leone is the most searched-for porn star in the country.



Reddit user BassistEddie wrote on Sunday’s development, “First, we have to know if it's really government who has banned them, because Supreme Court has refused to ban them, saying that it will be a violation of Article 21, the right to personal liberty.”



He was referring to what the Supreme Court

asked

last month: Is a person browsing pornographic websites within the four walls of his home committing any offence?



Media reports

said when the apex court was pressed for a direction under existing cyber laws to block websites immediately, the judges said, "It is an issue for the government to deal with. Can we pass an interim order directing blocking of all adult websites? And let us keep in mind the possible contention of a person who could ask what crime have I committed by browsing adult websites in private within the four walls of my house. Could he not argue about his right to freedom to do something within the four walls of his house without violating any law?"



A section of activists is seeking a ban on internet pornography, especially sites with abusive and child pornography, while others consider the move a brazen attack on individual freedom. The technicalities involved in getting porn sites banned too remain a major hurdle for authorities.



But at the same time, there is a strong debate on whether watching violent and fetishist porn encourages violence against women and sexism.

(The writer tweets as @saha_abhi1990)

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