Published on 5 Aug 2015 Sections ,

India porn ban lifted after outrage on social media

The Indian government has partially lifted its ban on hundreds of pornographic websites following a huge online backlash.

Last week the Indian government asked the Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISP) to block access to 857 websites on the grounds of morality and decency.

However, outrage quickly spread across social media prompting a debate on Twitter over censorship in the country.

The hashtag #pornban began trending over the weekend as many took to Twitter to vent their frustration. Following the ban several websites became inaccessible and displayed messages that they were blocked on the instructions of the competent authority.

The angry backlash caused the Indian government to revoke the ban but sites that promote child pornography will still be disabled.

“A new notification will be issued shortly. The ban will be partially withdrawn. Sites that do not promote child porn will be unbanned,” the country’s IT and telecom minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, told India Today TV.

Service providers, who now need to unblock most of the sites, argue that the new directive is unreasonable as they cannot be sure which websites contain child pornography.

Head of the India ISP Association of India told the Times of India: “How can the government put the responsibility on us to see whether a website carries child pornography or not?”

In July, the Indian supreme court criticised the government’s inability to block sites including child pornography.

The Indian government said the move to ban internet pornography was complying with the supreme court order and it is committed to the freedom of communication on the internet.

The ban is the country’s first biggest crackdown on internet porn service providers as social media and accessability to porn vida smartphones has rapidly increased. According to statistics released by adult site Pornhub, India was its fourth largest source of traffic in 2014, behind the US, UK and Canada.