Govt tells ISPs to block 857 porn sites

Govt tells ISPs to block 857 porn sites

With the debate raging on social media over the government’s decision to block 857 porn websites, the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) is planning to put in place an ombudsman to look into cyber content-related issues.

As per the DeitY direction, internet service providers dissolved 857 porn websites, said Internet Service Providers Association of India President Rajesh Charia.

However, the order to block porn websites faced criticism on social media with commentators calling it censorship of Internet. Several prominent personalities such as former Union Minister Milind Deora and Bollywood director Ram Gopal Verma have also opposed the decision.

The DeitY official, however, said it was a temporary measure till the final orders are pronounced by the Supreme Court. Defending the decision, a top government official said the government has merely complied with the Supreme Court directive asking for measures to block porn sites, particularly those dealing with child pornography.

The official, however, said that since the issue is very complicated, the case must be heard in detail by involvement of NGOs, civil society, parental groups, child councillors, internet service providers and the government, and after hearing the views of all, let the court come with some guidelines.

There is a view in the government that when proper guidelines on the issue will come, it will create a healthy stabilising factor in the country.

“The government must be away from this whole process (blocking of porn sites). On the issue of national security, terrorism, extremism, and communalism, the government will have the final say... beyond that the social media divide comes into operation, let there be an ombudsman to take a call, like the TV ombudsman is there,” the official said.
The ombudsman could be a retired SC judge or somebody from the civil society. The official said that all the stakeholders can give their views regarding the regulatory mechanism that should be adopted for the cyber content related issues.
On July 8, the government had assured the Supreme Court that all possible measures would be taken to block porn sites. The assurance came after a bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu expressed its unhappiness that things have not moved forward, and the petitioner in the matter was making all sorts of submissions.
The apex court had earlier asked the Secretary, DoT to file an affidavit on whether the government was competent to issue direction to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block porn sites particularly those showing child pornography.

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