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Porn Ban in India – How is it affecting the mobile data consumption in the country?

On 27th October 2018, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) in India banned 827 pornographic sites. This Ban is under the directive of Uttarakhand High Court. The court has warned of suspension of Internet Service License on non-compliance with this ban prompting popular internet providers to block the blacklisted sites without any delay. Incidentally, JIO telecommunication was the first Internet service provider who banned these sites. All other Internet Service Providers followed suit without any delay.

Enraged user base has taken to social media to berate the new encroachment of Court/ Government on the net neutrality laws in India. Angry twitters are flying around under the hashtag #pornban. While majority of the people are dissatisfied with the turn of events, a few has welcomed the verdict with much enthusiasm.

Telecom Companies’ Revenues Plunge

Inexpensive and unlimited cellular plans and proliferation of smart phones are enabling the porn usage in our country. An association of ethical hackers, Indian Cyber Army, estimates that in India every second 380 people are looking for pornographic content on search engines.

According to analysts and experts, the ban on internet pornography can set back the data revenue of telecom companies and internet service providers anywhere between 30% to 70%. The data revenue of leading telecom companies has been rising to the tune of more than 30% this quarter owing to low data charges. 30% of net traffic is believed to be related to pornographic content. Since porn is a very big part of the usage, telecom companies are apprehensive that the ban will have a huge impact on their revenue.

Why Ban? Why Now?

The DoT order to block 827 porn sites to all Internet Service Providers isn’t the first instance of banning access to sites containing adult content in India. On 1 August 2015, 857 pornographic sites were blocked under the Information Technology Act, 2000, to restrict access to pornographic content. The ban was later reverted on 5 August 2015 DoT due to heavy public criticism.

The latest DoT order is based on Uttarakhand High Court’s plea to revive the 2015 ban on adult websites in India. This resolution from Uttarakhand HC comes in the wake of an incident of child-on-child sexual violence.

Four 17-year-old students had raped a minor in a residential school in Dehradun.  During trial, it has come to light that the accused had access to pornographic content. It is argued that porn consumption enables such violent behavior in the people. Several studies show that porn addiction can lead to sexual violence against women. This incident urged the court to take such a measure.

Net Neutrality goes to a toast

This move from DoT clearly threatens the net neutrality laws of India, a country which claims to have the strongest rules against any form of data discrimination. People view this decision as a clear case of moral policing by Government/Court. The citizens of a country should be able to decide what to watch and what not to watch.

“There is no such thing as absolute neutrality and absolute non-interference,” according to a senior advocate of Supreme Court. “Reasonable restrictions can be placed if the government has concerns.”

Many people are of the opinion that such forced ban is not going to change the state of affairs. A Twitter user noted that, “#pornban isn’t the solution. Education is. Sexual assault and rapes aren’t the result of porn but of misogynistic mindsets.”

Many people are urging the government to revise their decision and ban with age restrictions. While this idea seems reasonable, one cannot help but wonder – Is porn ban the real solution to stop crime against women?

Getting Around the Ban

In spite of all the ruckus surrounding the order blocking adult sites, it is fairly easy to get around the ban. In 2017, third largest customer base for the porn website, pornhub.com was India, thanks to the rock bottom data charges. The company has created a mirror site Pornhub.net for Indian customers to view the site despite the ban. Another popular website Behance.net has asked all their customers to download their mobile application to circumvent the Supreme Court verdict.

 

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