Govt asks ISPs to block only sites promoting child porn

In a damage control mode, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad took a high-level review meeting today, which was attended by IT Secretary RS Sharma and Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, among others.

Facing flak over blocking of 857 websites, the government on Tuesday reviewed its order and decided to lift ban on those sites which did not contain pornographic material but had still faced action.

According to TheHindu, the ban has been partially lifted and only sites promoting child porn would continue to be prohibited.

A source told the news site, "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."

The decision follows a review of the earlier order, wherein the Department of Telecom had asked Internet service providers (ISPs) to block a total of 857 websites, although some websites were found to be hosting jokes, memes and other humourous content without any pornography.

The directive has sparked a raging debate on social media and other platforms with the government being accused of indulging into Internet censorship.

In a damage control mode, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad took a high-level review meeting today, which was attended by IT Secretary RS Sharma and Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, among others. It was decided in the meeting that the ISPs would be immediately asked not to block those sites which do not contain pornographic material, including child pornography, Prasad said.

Explaining the rationale behind the original directive, Prasad said, "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." The minister said that the government is committed for freedom of communication on the Internet. "The government compliments the dissemination of idea on the social media. We have launched the 'mygov' platform seeking views of people of India on developmental agenda and lakhs of people are participating on this platform," he said.

The government officials say that the ban is a temporary measure till the final orders are pronounced by the top court.

Reacting to the outrage against the move, Prasad had said yesterday that the NDA government was committed towards freedom on social media and Internet. "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," he had said.

With inputs from PTI

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