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Porn ban: Leaked order lists 857 websites blocked on grounds of 'morality and decency'

The confidential order dated July 31, 2015 addressed to ISPs asks for the "disablement" of 857 URLs" under "the provision of section 7913)(b) of the IT Act, 2000.

News18.com

Updated:August 3, 2015, 3:15 PM IST
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Porn ban: Leaked order lists 857 websites blocked on grounds of 'morality and decency'
The confidential order dated July 31, 2015 addressed to ISPs asks for the "disablement" of 857 URLs" under "the provision of section 7913)(b) of the IT Act, 2000.
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New Delhi: A leaked copy of the purported order issued by the Department of Telecommunications lists all the 857 websites that have been ordered to be blocked in India by the Department of Telecommunications.

The confidential order dated July 31, 2015 addressed to all Internet service licensees asks for the "disablement" of 857 URLs" under "the provision of section 7913)(b) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 as the content hosted on these websites relate to morality, decency as given in Article 19(2)of the Constitution of India."

But not all the websites in the list of 857 can actually be classified as pornographic websites. The list includes the likes of College Humor that is a popular comedy website and 9GAG, a social sharing website.

This is the "the largest single order" of such a nature, says Pranesh Prakash, policy director at Centre for Internet and Society (CIS), which has posted a copy on its website.

The ISPs have been directed to "take necessary action as per the direction of the DeitY (Department of Electronics and Information Technology)" and have been prevented from reproducing the compliance letter with instructions to keep the contents of the letter confidential. Many of the websites listed have also been blocked in previous instances.

The government usually keeps its actions around online censorship secret. "While the state has the power of blocking content, doing so in secrecy and without judicial scrutiny, mark deficiencies that remain in the procedure outlined under the provisions of the blocking rules," observes the CIS in an April 2015 report.

This latest attempt by the government to censor Internet content in India first spread via a Reddit thread titled, "Are porn sites getting blocked?" and then the word of the porn ban spread via social networking services.

Last month, the Supreme Court had issued declined to block pornography websites in India and Chief Justice of India (CJI) HL Dattu too observed that banning the watching of pornography at home would be a violation of Article 21, the Right to Personal Liberty.

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