NEW DELHI — The conservative Indian government has ordered the country’s internet service providers to block 67 adult sites for violating a new IT law passed in 2021, accusing them of “tarnishing the image of modesty of women.”
The list of adult sites banned in India now includes top-ranked global sites such as Pornhub, Brazzers and BangBros.
In an email sent to internet service providers, the Department of Telecom “has asked them to block 63 websites based on the order of a Pune court, and block 4 websites based on the order of the Uttarakhand High Court and directions issued by the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY),” the Times of India newspaper reported Thursday.
The order, issued Sept. 23 but only made public today, cited the 2021 Information Technology Rules in requiring ISPs to immediately block the sites, “in view of certain obscene material available in the below mentioned website that tarnish the image of modesty of women.”
The IT Rules 2021, the Times of India explained, “mandates IT companies to remove or disable access to content hosted, stored or published by them which ‘shows such individual in full or partial nudity or shows or depicts such individual in any sexual act or conduct’ and also content which is allegedly impersonated or artificially morphed.”
Although most mainstream Indian newspapers avoided mentioning which sites were the latest to be subjected to government censorship, India Express has published a spreadsheet that lists the sites, which brings the total number of adult sites banned by the Indian government to 857.
Hindu Nationalism and Porn Panic
As XBIZ reported, in early June, India’s increasingly powerful Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology published proposed new rules that would give the government sweeping control over social media platforms like Twitter and Reddit as well as digital news publications and streaming sites, including the power to punish them for “porn” and “obscenity.”
Led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a religious nationalist with authoritarian tendencies who came to power in 2014, the government “wants to arm itself with powers to overturn decisions of top social media companies such as Twitter, Facebook, Google and Instagram to suspend, block or remove accounts of users over various violations, and is also seeking new levers that will force the internet majors to take down content when directed on a user’s complaint,” The Times of India reported in June.
India is currently in the middle of a media-driven “porn panic” centered around a case involving Bollywood celebrities who invested in an X-rated online startup.