Widespread outrage on social media and other platforms forced the Centre on Tuesday to review the ban order on 857 websites and restrict it only to those hosting child pornography.
At a meeting here with top department officials, IT and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad decided to unblock websites that do not host child pornography.
“In future, only websites containing child pornography will be blocked. Other considerations will be looked into after the Supreme Court hearing,” an official said after the meeting.
The meeting was also attended by IT Secretary R S Sharma and Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand.
Anand told reporters that the ministry would soon file an affidavit in the Supreme Court explaining its action taken on the issue raised by the petition even as she emphasised only those adult websites that had child pornography were blocked.
Earlier, the government issued direction to telecom operators and internet service providers to “disable” URLs of 857 websites under Section 79(3)(b) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 “as the content hosted on these websites related to morality, decency as given in Article 19(2) of the Constitution.”
In the process, however, some websites which were found to be hosting jokes, memes and other humourous content without any pornography, were also blocked.
“The instant action is basically in obedience to the observation of the Supreme Court where the court asked the department to take action on the list of alleged porn sites provided by the petitioner (Kamlesh Vaswani),” said Prasad.
Explaining the rationale behind the original directive, the minister said the government is committed to freedom of communication on the Internet.
“The government compliments the dissemination of idea on social media. We have launched the mygov platform seeking views on developmental agenda and lakhs of people are participating on this platform,” he added.
Reacting to the outrage against the move, Prasad had said on Monday: “I reject with contempt the charge that it is a Talibani government, as being said by some of the critics. Our government supports free media, respect communication on social media and has respected freedom of communication always.”