India reverses ban on porn websites

The government will, however, continue to ban child pornography websites

India has decided to remove a block on porn websites that it introduced over the weekend, but will continue blocking sites that promote child pornography, according to reports.

The country's order to Internet service providers on Friday to block 857 websites was in response to an observation recently by the country's Supreme Court that the government had to address the proliferation of pornography on the Internet. The court was hearing a public interest litigation by a private person asking for a ban on pornographic websites.

The government has now decided to issue an order partially withdrawing the ban, according to reports that cited an unnamed top-level source. Government representatives could not be immediately reached for confirmation.

India's decision to backtrack on the block was likely to have been driven by widespread protests from users and civil rights groups. Critics also pointed out that the roughly 800 websites identified by the government are only a fraction of the number of pornography sites on the Web.

The country's Information Technology Act allows the government to block access to certain websites, but the rules say blocks must be justified by conditions such as threats to the integrity and security of the country. Under those rules, experts said, the government would find it hard to justify a block of all pornography websites.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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