Porn ban in India: 'This site has been blocked'? Not quite

porn-ban

Are you a porn again believer? Blessed are the ones who trust in the infinite ways and truths of the world wide web. For their deliverance might just be at hand.

The Uttarakhand High Court had ordered last week that 857 porn websites should be banned (don't ask how or who lend his hand to such tireless research and came up with that precise number) after a bunch of rape accused confessed they gangraped a fellow classmate after watching adult sites on their electronic devices. The Department of Telecommunications promptly came out with an order asking service providers to block 827 sites (again, the babus did some diligent 'research' and found that 30 out of the original 857 were 'harmless').

Ambani's Jio was the first 'miss goody-two-shoes' of the block, announcing that porn will be blocked all across its network. With reports soon coming that Jio's aghast customers were looking to migrate to other networks, the other biggies like Vodafone-Idea and Airtel were nudged into action.

A cursory check on Thursday night and Friday (in the line of duty, of course) showed that some of the more popular adult entertainment websites had become unreachable. Net users were getting messages like 'Safari cannot access the site you requested” or “This site has been blocked”. So all's sanskaari that ends well? Not quite.

Along with Indians raising a social media storm lambasting the action of the government (the second time it has happened during the Modi regime—the first porn ban, after a court order in 2015, was soon rescinded), the adult entertainment website PornHub came out with a sharply worded criticism of the move. At least as per PornHub's subscriber base, India is the world's third biggest consumer of porn after the US and UK. This time around, the Canada-based company nonchalantly came out with a mirror site for its subscribers to use.

Technology itself makes old-world-style 'porn ban' pretty redundant, in a world where websites can easily mirror their sites, or use proxy servers to still get their content across. And what about sites which have advised their users to download their app to catch their content directly if they are not accessible on traditional browsers? There are also reports that some browsers still send content unfiltered.

God, and the internet, move in mysterious ways, and perhaps the authorities could have paid heed to this cyber truth before going in for such retrogressive actions. There are hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of websites offering porn content, and even if you don't go to such sites, social media sites like Twitter or streaming platforms like Netflix offer oodles of nudity and sexual content. Game of Thrones, anyone?

And if all else fails, like a smart alec Twitter user pointed out, go back to the basics, to the nearest shady street or local bazaar with a porn vendor who could sell you 'latest hot'' stuff on a CD or pen drive. Salvation is truly in the eyes (and resourcefulness) of the beholder.

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