Following massive uproar over its move to ban 857 pornography sites, the Union government on Tuesday said the ban would be lifted. However, sites that promoted child porn would continue to be prohibited.
The government on Friday asked Internet service providers to restrict “open and free” access to 857 porn websites to protect Indian cultural fabric. On Monday, The Hindu had reported that the ban was ‘temporary’.
“The government has decided that the ban will be partially lifted. The Supreme Court petition pertained to child pornography, so sites promoting it will continue to be under the ban. A communication will soon be sent out to Internet services providers. Other considerations will be looked into after court hearing,” a source in the Telecom Ministry said.
The decision was taken at a high-level meeting called by Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and attended by IT Secretary R.S. Sharma and Additional Solicitor-General Pinky Anand.
“The action taken by the government was basically to comply with the observation of the Supreme Court when it asked the department to take action on the list of alleged porn sites provided by the petitioner,” Mr. Prasad said.
“The issue is definitely serious and some steps need to be taken,” Chief Justice H.L. Dattu had remarked while hearing a public interest litigation petition by advocate Kamlesh Vashwani to block porn websites. “The Centre is expected to take a stand … let us see what stand the Centre will take.”
He had directed the government to reply in four weeks. The next hearing in the Supreme Court on this matter is scheduled for August 10.
The Telecom Department is working on a long-term policy, which could include the setting up a regulatory body or an ombudsman to regulate such sites, a top Ministry source had told The Hindu . “The government must stay away from the whole process [dealing with obscene/explicit content online] … One of the ideas is to set up a regulatory body or let there be an ombudsman to take a call or such issues.”