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India's ISPs Want the Supreme Court to Define Porn

India's ISPs Want the Supreme Court to Define Porn
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Jan 28, 2014 9:00 AM PST    Text size: 

NEW DELHI — India’s ISPs said they are merely "conduits" and can't can’t be responsible for determining what websites contain porn and should be blocked.

Reacting to a petition filed by Indore-based advocate Kamlesh Vaswani to ban child porn, the Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI) told the Supreme Court that they simply provide Internet access to customers and couldn’t ban websites featuring the objectionable content without orders from the court or the government.

"ISPs neither create content of any sort, nor do they own, promote, modify or edit it. They are mere authorized service providers who provide customers access to Internet. ISPs are mere conduits and they cannot be made liable for the contents they do not own. It would be akin to making liable telecom companies for conversations people have on their network," the group told The Times of India.

The proponents of the measure alleged that the lack of stiffer laws provided India's citizens with access to more than 20 free hardcore videos and clippings on the Internet. They also blame porn for inciting crimes against women.

But the ISPAI said, "While ISPs are legally bound to comply with all orders to block pornographic or other websites as suggested by DoT, the task of identifying such websites ought not to be left to ISPs who lack institutional and logistical capacity to do the identification."

The group argued that without clear-cut definition of porn, some sites that could be classified as art or literary work could suffer. The ISPAI also said its members could be hit with lawsuits if they started blocking websites on their own.

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