India Plans to Block .XXX

Mar 24, 2011 10:00 AM PST

NEW DELHI — The Indian government has launched the latest salvo in its anti-porn crusade seeking to block websites that use the newly approved .XXX TLD suffix.

Although distributing porn is illegal per the Indian Penal Code, viewing porn isn't technically a crime.

But anti-porn supporters claim that the new domain approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers last week, will make it easier for conservative Islamic states to block porn distribution channels, despite the fact that adult material can still be accessed with existing domain suffixes like .com and .in.

"India along with many other countries from the Middle East and Indonesia opposed the grant of the domain in the first place, and we would proceed to block the whole domain, as it goes against the IT Act and Indian laws," said a senior official at the ministry of IT.

He added, "Though some people have said that segregation is better, and some countries allow it. But for other nations transmission and direct distribution of such content goes against their moral and culture.”

Responding to the futility of blocking .com and other porn sites, the official said the government ministry would address them on a “case to case basis.”

Some Internet experts said the Indian government will find it tough to block such websites under the current regulations and said that .XXX could in fact help parents and employers police porn viewing.

"Even cities allow red-light areas. The new domain would make parents and companies easily cordon off such domain access," said Rajesh Chharia, Internet Service Providers Association of India president.

Vivek Sood, cyber lawyer and author of “The Fundamental Right to the Internet” told The Economic Times, "Though government can block the access to the .XXX sites altogether under law, but it will be easily challenged in court. The same content can be hosted in other domains like .com and .in and Section 67 of IT Act is actually a mockery in itself.”

Chharia added, "We as Internet service providers will be easily able to provide software tools which can deny such domain access, which is not always possible for adult sites under .in or .com domains.”

But some security experts claim that allowing .XXX would invite trouble for India.

Delhi-based cyber lawyer Pavan Duggal said, "The ICANN's UDRP allows a time frame of 45 days before which the domain can be struck off. A miscreant can easily hide his or her details from the WhoIS registry making tracking difficult for brand owners."

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