NEW DELHI: Even as the government is grappling with criticism over ban on pornographic websites, a parliamentary panel has claimed that unchecked circulation of such material was a “definite roadblock” in the country’s future and recommended constituting a “neutral ombudsman”.
The Rajya Sabha Committee on Petitions tabled a report in the House on Thursday, which considered the original 2013 petition by a Jain preacher Jainacharya Vijay Ratnasunderdari, which was counter-signed by MP Vijay Darda from Maharashtra.
The panel said “the harmful and destructive exposure to cyber porn is a serious threat to the country’s social and economic fabric and it cannot be overlooked”.
“The committee considers unchecked circulation of pornographic material and distribution thereof, as a definite roadblock to reaching the global aim of building a bright future for India,” it added.
Hailing the government for initiating the process of blocking child pornographic sites, the panel recommended the constitution of a neutral ombudsman to decide on complaints of transmission of obscene and objectionable pornography material and accordingly take steps towards blocking them.
It suggested that the government should evolve a provision for distribution of free internet filters to restrict access as well as empower non-governmental organisations to monitor sites that transmit pornographic materials. Further, the committee recommended that a mass public awareness campaign should be undertaken to make people aware of the negative impacts of cyber pornography. The committee took note of the Supreme Court’s observation that the judiciary cannot stop an adult from exercising his fundamental right to liberty to watch porn within the privacy of his room.
But the report then said this was “somehow contrary to its earlier stand taken in August 2014 in one of the PIL, wherein it has been observed that the time has come when law should be faster than technology”.
“The time has come when there needs to be synthesis of law, technology and governance to control pornographic material on the internet,” said the panel report, batting for a strong government intervention.
Incidentally, the Department of Electronics and Information Technology in its deposition before the committee had pointed out the technological problems in monitoring and blocking pornographic sites.“These sites post pornographic advertisements and in case a particular advertisement is blocked, it appears elsewhere in a different site and is therefore technically difficult to block,” the department had told the panel.