Ensure strict compliance with Porn Ban, Uttarakhand HC tells ISPs [Read Order]
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Ensure strict compliance with Porn Ban, Uttarakhand HC tells ISPs [Read Order]

Meera Emmanuel

The recent gangrape of a minor by four of her schoolmates has prompted the Uttarakhand High Court to pass orders directing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and the state authorities to ensure that a 2015 ban on porn sites is enforced in letter and spirit. 

The Bench of Acting Chief Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Manoj Tiwari passed the order earlier this week after taking note of media reports indicating that the accused boys had watched porn movies before committing the rape. The Court expressed concern over the impact unlmited access to pornogaphic sites would have on the impressionable minds of children.

We can take judicial notice of the fact that sexual assault against the minors is increasing. The children are not safe even in educational institutions. The young children are being sexually abused, exploited and assaulted…

… We are also told at the bar that as per the news items, these boys had seen porn movies and, thereafter, called the minor girl to the store-room, where she was sexually assaulted. Unlimited access to these pornographic sites is required to be blocked / curbed to avoid adverse influence on the impressionable mind of the children.”

Amicus CuriaeArvind Vashisth directed the attention of the Court to various provisions under the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 and rules issued in 2009 and 2011, which enable the state and competent courts to direct that ISPs block content which is, inter alia, obscene and harmful to minors. These provisions also obligated ISPs to take appropriate measures to guard against such objectionable content.

Accordingly, a 2015 Notification issued by the Union Ministry of Communication and IT had directed that certain websites be blocked given that they infringed morality, and decency,  While this was the case, the Court observed,

Though the directions were issued to all the Internet Service License Holders, but till date, all the Intermediaries have not followed the same in letter and spirit. The sites are readily available to the children to view obscene and indecent acts, including pornography. It was expected from all the Internet Service License Holders that they would block these sites to protect the children of impressionable age. The psyche of the children of impressionable age is also affected, which, at times, results in commission of crimes. The entire society, including parents, teachers, and school management is responsible to safeguard the interest of the children.”

After hauling up ISPs for not carrying out these directions, the Court proceeded to direct the following,

– A direction is to be issued to all ISPs to comply with the 2015 notification and block the publication or transmission of obscene material in any electronic form, transmitting of material containing sexually explicit act or conduct and also publishing or transmitting of material depicting children in the sexually explicit act or conduct forthwith.

– All ISPs failing to comply with this mandates will have their licence revoked.

– The investigation in the minor’s gangrape case is to be completed within eight weeks from the date of the order.

Read the Order;

Uttarkhand-HC-Porn-ban-ISPs.pdf
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