Government backs down: asks ISPs to only block sites featuring child porn

Changes its decision of blocking 857 porn websites after the public outrage.

Published Date
05 - Aug - 2015
| Last Updated
05 - Aug - 2015
 
Government backs down: asks ISPs to only block sites featuring ch...

After continuous backlash on social media, the Indian government has finally yielded on its decision to ban all porn websites. They now say that the ban will only affect websites that offer child porn. The interesting thing about this decision is that the government has asked the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to find out and block websites which offer child porn. This could mean that government doesn't want to take responsibility and obviously, the ISPs aren't too happy about it. The ISPs have said that it isn't fair to give them the responsibility of finding and blocking the websites with child porn and nor do they have the required resources to do so.

The decision was made in a meeting by the IT Minister, Ravi Shankar Prased, on Tuesday after seeing the public outrage ever since the news of government banning 857 porn websites started spreading. As a result of the meeting, a letter was sent to S.K. Arya, director at the Department of Telecommunications, from B.J. Srinath, group coordinator at the Department of Electronics and Information Technology. The letter is quoted as, "In continuation of our letter of even number dated July 30, department of telecom (DoT) is hereby requested to communicate to all the intermediaries (SIPs) that the intermediaries are hereby directed that they are free not to disable any of the 857 URLs, as given in the list, which do not have child pornographic content."

As already stated above, the ISPs are not happy about the decision of giving them the task of going through websites to find which ones are providing child porn. In response to this decision, Interent Service Providers Association of India's President, Rajesh Chharia, told TOI,  "How can the government put the responsibility on us to see whether a website carries child pornography or not?" before adding, "Why should an Internet service provider by punished if a website suddenly transmits child pornography?"

The decision does seem like a relief to users, but things arent going to settle down easily. Now, it seems like a war between the government and the ISPs of India. As of now, the ISPs seem right to be against the decision while the government is running into more controversies instead of avoiding them.

This isn't the first time that the Indian government has courted controversy with their decisions. Earlier, they ran into problems with Net Neutrality, especially when TRAI released the list containing the email addresses of all the users who signed the petition against Net Neutrality. Indian governement had to face outrage then, so much so that Anonymous India hacked the TRAI website, although it was restored later.

The Indian government keeps saying that they are free government and doesn't want to control anything, but their decisions seem to contradict what they claim most of the time. Now, it will be interesting to see how things go between the government and the ISPs. Will we see another rollback from Indian government or a "reason" behind the decision? Whatever it may be, we will keep you updated.