censorship

India Tries to Ban Porn in Vain… Again

Just three years after its last attempt failed, India’s lawmakers are once more trying to stop its citizens viewing porn online

Pornhub Website on a Laptop Computer
Charlotte Darrell
By Charlotte Darrell

After almost a month, India’s ISPs are beginning to implement the Department of Telecommunications’ (DoT) ban on pornography, with many Indians now facing the dreaded ‘connection timeout’ error message upon trying to access adult content.

On September 27th, India’s DoT ordered ISPs to ban over 800 websites that it believed to be hosting pornographic material.

And this isn’t the first time India’s government has tried to take a stand against pornography, but its efforts appear to be fruitless – India is the third largest consumer of adult content in world behind the US and Great Britain.

In July 2015, the Indian government issued the same order to ISPs but withdrew it soon after, stating that providers could allow access to the listed sites with the exception of those that hosted images of child sexual abuse.

India has long struggled with issues of sexual violence, and the Supreme Court recently stated that women are being raped “left, right and centre”. The latest attempt to stamp out porn came after a rape case in which one of the accused said that watching an X-rated movie inspired him to commit the crime.

The High Court of the northern state of Uttarakhand, where the crime took place, ordered the reintroduction of the previously failed ban to “avoid an adverse influence on the impressionable minds of children”.

But it seems banning websites with adult content is simply not enough to stop India’s citizens watching it. Many have taken to social media using the hashtag ‘#pornban’ to flood the internet with satirical memes and GIFs expressing their exasperation.

Just days after the DoT’s ruling, well-known porn site Pornhub revealed a mirror site in a Tweet directed to its Indian users. The slightly altered URL allowed them to regain access to the originally blocked content.

In response to the ban Pornhub Vice-President Corey Price said: “There are no laws against pornography in India and watching adult content privately. It’s evident that the Indian government does not have a solution to a very serious and systemic problem in the country, and is using adult sites like ours as a scapegoat.”

Like many around the world facing government censorship, some Indians are turning to VPNs in order to access blocked content. VPNs not only help users to access restricted content, but also encrypt internet traffic to provide privacy and security online – you can read about our top VPN recommendations for India here.

With physical-media porn, including DVDs and flash drives, readily available and cheap, plus online porn still accessible via VPNs and other means, the government’s attempted ban looks to be futile. What’s more, it may push citizens to visit untrusted, malicious websites instead, which could bring about its own issues.