Government forced to accept Child Porn blocking. Still miles to go for blocking Adult Porn..

Government finally submitted their reply to the Feb’16 and Apr’16 order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the Dec’16 hearing. Government played little bit smart and submitted the affidavit just two days before the hearing and due of this it could not be included in the proceedings and and new hearing date was given. However, Petitioner Lawyer Mr. Panjwani argued that he has no objection to the affidavit and only wanted the Government to commit to couple of things that they have mentioned in their Affidavit. Namely Government has mentioned that they remain committed to blocking Child Pornography and that the list of such websites or the “Worst of” List has been provided by the INTERPOL to Indian agencies. This has been forwarded to DoT for implementation, where are we on that. Secondly how and when they are going to block Adult Pornography, which they accept is illegal and help save “Child” as a viewer of Porn.

Department of Telecommunications(DoT) in their reply has acknowledged receiving the “Worst of” list, which they have forwarded to the ISPs. The reply says:

Thereafter, DeitY vide their letter dated Aug-2016 has forwarded the INTERPOL’s “Worst-of-List” (as obtained by CBI) to DoT for blocking. Accordingly, instructions have been issued to ISPs for blocking of INTERPOL’s “Worst-of-List” (1897 domains) vide this office letter dated Sep-2016. The compliance have been received from ISPs in this regard.

However in court Government was asked to share date by when this compliance can be confirmed and awaited reply. The petitioner (read undersigned) had already shared techniques to perform Porn blocking at country level in meeting held in DeitY campus on 20.06.2016 with officials from DeitY, DoT, ISP & ISPAI representatives attending. Country level blocking can easily be implemented using well known techniques like ‘DNS Blocking’, ‘TCP Reset’ etc. List of websites is available from 10’s of third party providers including Free and Paid ones e.g. OpenDNS, Shalla’s Blacklist, URLBlacklist, Netsweeper etc. See attached presentation made to the government/ISPs in this meeting Porno_Blocking_DeITy_Jun2016-4. Complete details were shared including Website categorizations that can be used by the Government for blocking sites belonging to objectionable categories. But Government looks like to be in no mood to listening and has summarily rejected these suggestions without providing any reason. DoT in its reply, item iv.

iv. DoT view on feedback of ISP on petitioner’s presentations and views:

It is to be noted that identifying and blocking pornography websites/URLs is challenging in the cyber space which has distinct and unique characteristics compared to physical space. Cyber space is virtual, borderless and anonymous. This was discussed in the meeting held on 20.06.2016 in DeitY and was attented by DoT, MHA, CBI and major ISPs and ISPAI and all agreed that the solution proposed is not practicable in ISPs network.

Our question is that if ISPs have no objection in blocking Child Porn then why so much resistance to blocking Adult Porn? Economic? Political? Why they think it cannot be done? whereas techniques or identification methods for blocking Child Porn are no different from Adult Porn. Strangely ISPs stand is further supported by both DeitY and DoT who have expressed their inability to block Adult Porn, which they admitted is prohibited under various acts namely IPC section 292 and 67A/B of the IT Act. DeitY in its reply, para 19 has commented

19. That it is also submitted that unlike online child sexual abuse content/ child pornography, there is no authentic and verifiable “Worst of” or similar list from INTERPOL or any other agency available for adult pornography for purpose of blocking. In this context, it is reiterated that the Government is committed to block such content, which is violative of section 66E, section 67, 67A of IT Act or section 292-294 of IPC or Criminal Law Amendment Act 2013 or Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986 or under any law for the time being in force, keeping in view the well settled principles of law as laid down by this Hon’ble Court on obscenity.

Clearly they have ignored all the suggestions made by the petitioner in the Jun’16 meeting, wherein multiple reliable sources of such list were provided. In summary there is no change in Governments aversion to implementing the court order for blocking both Adult and Child pornography in totality. Despite specific list of 857 websites provided by the petitioner and specific techniques elaborated by the petitioner, no concrete action has been taken by the Government so far. Government looks to be in no mood to move forward with Adult Porn blocking. Another aspect, which has been overlooked by the Government from the Feb’16 order is “Child as a Viewer” category wherein Supreme Court has taken strong objection to currently not having any checks whatsover for blocking children from accessing Adult content on the Net. Affidavit raised by Ms. Pavani from Women Bar Lawyers association being a case in point.

Porn Blocking Techniques – Presentation at DeitY meeting 20.06.16

News report of the Dec’16 hearing

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