The Supreme Court has advised the government to develop technologies to control the unrestricted availability of pornographic material on the Internet. Besides pornography, the Internet is also being used by groups promoting terrorism, human trafficking and other objectionable objectives. Every civilised government must be equipped to deal with such challenges. Some nations have developed means to regulate access to obscene material. Indian authorities could take a cue from them. The government has set up an advisory committee to suggest ways to block such websites. Its work should be expedited.
It goes without saying that the most chilling of the websites are the ones which are used by paedophiles for perpetrating child sex abuse. Moreover, just as violent films on TV encourage children to imitate what they see on the screen, “blue” or erotic sites lead to similar “experimentations” with dreadful consequences for individuals and society. Parents aren’t always able to keep their children away from such sites either because they are too busy to pay attention to what the kids are doing, or the children can always go to a friend’s place to view such material.
This disturbing 21st century development, which has added a fresh dimension to the earlier practice of pornography being available in books and photographs, is yet another confirmation of how “progress” has its pitfalls. While being aware, however, of this dark side of “advancement”, it has to be remembered that a blanket ban can be as harmful as allowing free access to the sites peddling vulgarity and perversion. Authoritarian and theocratic regimes like China and Iran cannot be the role models in this matter, for they use the opportunity provided by the indecent sites to clamp down on the freedom of expression in general. Democracies have to tread carefully to ensure that the government and the society cooperate to eradicate the burgeoning threat without encroaching on free speech. The baby should not be thrown out with the bathwater.