oppn parties Watching Porn: Banning Access on Internet is Not the Solution

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Watching Porn: Banning Access on Internet is Not the Solution

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
The Supreme Court raps the government about its inaction on blocking child pornography on the Internet. What does the government do? It goes ahead and bans more than 850 adult content websites, through an order by the DoT to ISP’s to block these sites and their IP addresses. It is doubtful whether any of the banned websites actually purvey child pornography. The government is not a good mother for it has thrown the baby out with the bathwater. Everyone is concerned about child pornography. It is one of the vilest and most degrading forms of voyeurism. It is rightly banned in most countries in the world. But the blanket ban on pornographic sites is wrong and should be resisted. That the government has backtracked after huge public outrage and widespread criticism and said sites having child pornographic content will only be banned shows it in very poor light. It shows that it rushed into taking an extreme decision before weighing all options.

Watching porn in privacy is the right of every adult citizen. The Supreme Court said as much in the ongoing public interest litigation on the subject. The government does not have the resources at its command to enforce a complete ban. Sites are banned by denying access to their IP addresses. But this can only be done if these addresses are known. Hence, it will boil down to as cat and mouse game between the government, the ISP’s and the sites. The porn sites will change their IP addresses and keep the content intact. Further, what about the hundreds of sub links one site can have? Any of these sub links can take a viewer to a child pornographic site and that cannot be monitored by the ISP’s. The government has talked of appointing an ombudsman to keep track of this. But it is an impossible task and the ISP’s have said as much.

People are saying unbridled access to porn is bad for children in the 11-18 age groups. Granted. But why is it so? Despite the fact that we have a rich repository of sexual literature, including the game changing Kama Sutra, we have been shying away from imparting sex education to our children. Further, the internet is not unbridled. As parents can ensure their kids do not see ‘A’ rated movies, so they can also ensure their kids do not watch porn on the internet. There are innumerable devices through which access can be locked or monitored. If any parent finds it impossible to stop his or her child from watching porn on the internet with the plethora of devices and access to them everywhere, they should understand the problems in implementing a ban with advances in technology happening every hour. Basically, the parents who are crying foul are trying to pass on one aspect of parenting to the government. The government cannot be expected to act as a nanny.

Finally, what about the easy availability of porn across India in form of CD’s and DVD’s from ramshackle shacks manned by shady people? It is not as if porn became a phenomenon only after the internet came into being. It was being watched when 16mm cameras were the rage. It was also being watched when video cassette recorders took over. CD’s and DVD’s made it easier and finally, the internet made it commonplace. But going after one form of access, while leaving others alone, is not the way to stop people from watching it. Also, it is not the government’s concern to decide what a private citizen will watch in the privacy of his home.