Logo

Defender of your Digital Freedom

Home > Freedom in the Net > Government calls blanket porn-ban impractical – suggests pre-installed filtering software

Government calls blanket porn-ban impractical – suggests pre-installed filtering software

May 06,2014 | 03:52 pm

On Monday, 5th April 2014, the Supreme Court of India heard a Writ petition filed by an Indore-based lawyer Kamlesh Vaswani seeking to ban access to pornographic content on the internet.

In his petition, Mr. Vaswani speaks at tremendous length about the harmful effects of internet porn. He argues that the internet allows access to extremely graphic, violent and brutal forms of pornography that in turn lead to the commission of crimes against women and children. Through social conditioning, pornography fosters discrimination, and the porn industry in its quest for commercial success promotes gender and racial stereotypes while brazenly celebrating vicious and fundamentally immoral acts of misogyny, misanthropy and racism. Several other arguments and statistics are offered in demonstration of the negative impacts of pornography on contemporary society, all of which go towards showing that it is an immediate threat that needs to be wiped out once and for all.
Mr. Vaswani feels that Indian law as it currently stands does not adequately address the issue of pornography, mainly due to the following reasons:

  • There exists no clear-cut definition of the term ‘pornography’ in any Indian Statute
  • Watching pornographic videos is not treated as an offence – only its production and distribution are penalized
  • The Information Technology Act is primarily meant to promote e-commerce and e-governance, and is hence inefficient in tackling internet porn
  • The Information Technology Act provides immunity from liability to intermediaries against user-uploaded content (including pornographic content), though intermediaries such as Internet Service Providers could easily check the presence of such content on-line

For these reasons, the petition prays that:

  • A writ of declaration be issued declaring Sections 66, 67, 69, 71, 72, 75, 79, 80 and 85 of the Act as ultra vires of the Constitution of India
  • An order or direction in form of an appropriate writ to the respondents to formulate a National Policy and draft an action Plan on the issue of pornography
  • A direction be issued to the respondents to prepare a separate law on pornography exhaustively to curb the growing problem of pornography
  • A direction be issued to the respondents to treat watching of porn videos and sharing as non-bailable and cognizable offences

The Additional Solicitor General appearing on behalf of the Government of India argued that a blanket-ban on all internet porn as envisaged by the petitioner would be impractical in view of the sheer amount of data being uploaded on a daily basis. It was also argued that such a blanket-ban would be tantamount to violating the rights to free speech and privacy (Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution respectively) since proactive blocking of objectionable content would require ISPs to sift through all content on the internet, including private user-data. Instead, the ASG suggested installation of filtering-software on all computers, though the logistics of such an undertaking still requires considerable discussion.

The petition has now been directed to be listed after two weeks

Statement about SC judgment on Internet Shutdown in Kashmir

Statement about SC judgment on Internet Shutdown in Kashmir SFLC.in welcomes the judgment pronounced today by the Supreme Court in ...

Kerala High Court Declares ‘Right to Access Internet’ as a Fundamental Right

Kerala High Court Declares ‘Right to Access Internet’ as a Fundamental Right The Kerala High Court in a monumental decision ...

Roundtable: Identifying and Limiting Hate Speech and Harassment Online

The advances made possible by the advent of the Internet have impacted the notion of free speech in a great ...

Comments on draft Geospatial Information Regulation Bill 2016

On May 4, 2016, the Ministry of Home Affairs published the draft Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, 2016, seeking to regulate ...

Opening Keynote at re:publica2016 by Mishi Choudhary and Eben Moglen

The last kilometer, the last chance During the period from 2016 - 2025, the "other half" of the human race ...

SFLC.in’s comments on the draft outcome document of the WSIS+10 review

The draft outcome document of the "United Nations General Assembly's High-Level Meeting on the overall review of the implementation of ...

Government’s stand on internet governance draws applause from civil society organisations

India's decision to support the multistakeholdermodel of internet governance has drawn mostly applause from civil society organisations and individuals who ...

Airtel calls it ‘standard solution’, but experts say spy code breach of privacy

Airtel seems to be doing some serious firefighting after being accused of "spying" by Bengaluru-based programmer Thejesh GN. Airtel seems ...

Rightscon Southeast Asia conference

Mr. Prasanth Sugathan, Counsel, SFLC.in will be speaking at RighstCon Southeast Asia conference from March 24-25, 2015 at Manila, Philippines. ...

CONNECTing the Dots: Options for Future Action

Ms. Mishi Choudhary will be speaking at an international multistakeholder conference on Internet-related issues organized by UNESCO in France, Paris ...