NEW DELHI: The Centre on Tuesday reviewed its decision to ban 857 pornographic websites and decided to lift the same, while continuing to censor sites that promote child pornography.
The Ministry of Communications and Information and Technology will soon issue a notification, withdrawing the ban on porn sites partially.
The websites that do not promote child pornography will not be banned, Union Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
The ministry in its July 31 order under Section 79(3)(b) of the IT Act, 2000, had banned 857 websites, terming their content immoral and indecent.
The directive had sparked widespread debate on social media and other platforms, and the Centre was accused of resorting to Internet censorship.
In a damage control mode, Prasad on Tuesday held a high-level review meeting, which was attended by IT Secretary R S Sharma and Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, among others.
In July, the Supreme Court had said banning adult websites was not its job, but was an issue concerning the government. The court had in an order last year suggested that the Centre should monitor access to pornography.
Explaining the rationale behind the original directive, Prasad said, “The instant action is basically in obedience to the observation of the Supreme Court, where it asked the Department to take action on the list of alleged porn sites provided by the petitioner...”
However, Prasad added that the government was committed to the freedom of communication on the Internet. The government officials said the ban was a temporary measure till the final orders were pronounced by the top court.
According to the projection by the UK-based digital market research specialist firm Juniper Research, online porn viewership would grow by nearly 42 per cent in the next five years due to the reach of smartphones.