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VPNs & Proxy sites make porn sites accessible despite ban

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By Muhammad Zulqarnain Zulfi

New Delhi: With the central government banning some of the pornographic websites, experts believe that accessing the blocked stuff on the Internet, is not difficult as many free proxy and virtual private network (VPN) services make it available for the eager user.

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The ministry of communications and information and technology, in its order of July 31 under section 79(3)(b) of the IT Act 2000 had banned 857 websites terming their content “immoral and indecent”.

Sources in the government, however, denied that there was any crackdown. They said denial of access at department of telecom’s (DoT) instance was “temporary, insisting that it was a prelude to the creation of a regular regulatory oversight.

They said the directive was necessitated by the Supreme Court’s observations last month over the home ministry’s failure in blocking child pornography on several sites, and claimed that the idea was not to “black out or police what people did in their bedrooms.” The government order seems to target many sites which have nothing to do with child pornography.

Experts say there’s always a workaround for accessing blocked website as long as its there on the Internet. “The easiest method would be to make use of proxies and VPN’s. Many proxy and VPN services make it possible to access the banned stuff with complete anonymity on the Internet,” Hoshie Ghaswalla, CEO of media business for CyberMedia told a media outlet.

“Accessing blocked websites is even easier on android devices thanks to an free VPN apps. Apart from the basic VPN feature, the app even allows you to switch countries with ease, which makes it easy to bypass geographically blocked websites,” he added.

Advocating individual’s right to have access to adult contents, Karnika Seth, Cyberlaw expert and chairperson of the Lex Cyberia said that viewing adult content by adult is not illegal but its transmission/publishing is.

“Supreme Court is deciding the matter involving child pornography materials freely available online and its directions are for blocking them and not adult sites simpliciter, as viewing adult content by an adult is not illegal. Its transmission/publishing, though, surely is. Most of these sites are hosted from abroad,” Seth told the media.

The Supreme Court in its observation on the issue on July 8 had said banning such sites would be violation of an individual’s right to liberty.

“Such interim orders cannot be passed by this court. Somebody can come to the court and say Look, I am an adult and how can you stop me from watching it within the four walls of my room? It is a violation of Article 21 (right to personal liberty) of the constitution,” Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu said while hearing a petition of an Indore-based advocate Kamlesh Vaswani, who wanted a blocking of all porn sites.

According to telecom operators who have received notices from the telecom department, the government has asked Internet service providers (ISPs) to block hundreds of adult websites,

While some telecom operators have already complied with the government order to block certain websites, the rest are expected to implement the order in a day or two. A senior executive at one of the major ISPs said that the order was received late on Friday and that the company was in the process of implementing it. He declined to be identified.

While the government hasn’t said anything publicly on the censorship, access to popular pornography websites seems to have been restricted by several ISPs. Critics of the government’s move said the state should stop interfering with what adults are doing privately.

The Cellular Operators Association Of India (COAI) said it was not possible to block all the sites immediately.

“We have to block each site one by one and it will take a few days for all service providers to block all the sites,” a COAI member said.

Telecom service providers including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular refused to comment on this.

(IANS)

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Britain To Ban Sale Of Plastic Straws In Bid To Fight Waste

Britain planning to ban the sale of Plastic products

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An alternative for plastic straws.
Stainless steel straws are displayed at the cooperative Sin Plastico (Without Plastic), which offers environmentally friendly household items free from plastic materials and packaging, in Bilbao, Spain, April 6, 2018. Britain plans to ban the sale of plastic straws and other single-use items. VOA

Britain plans to ban the sale of plastic straws and other single-use products and is pressing Commonwealth allies to also take action to tackle marine waste, the office of Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May said.

It said drink stirrers and cotton buds would also be banned under the plans.

May has pledged to eradicate avoidable plastic waste by 2042 as part of a “national plan of action.”

“Plastic waste is one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world, which is why protecting the marine environment is central to our agenda at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting,” May said in a statement ahead of a Commonwealth summit Thursday.

A woman drinking from plastic straw
A woman drinks from a paper cup through a plastic straw on Westminster

Leaders from the Commonwealth — a network of 53 countries, mostly former British colonies — are meeting in London this week.

May is looking to deepen ties to the Commonwealth as Britain seeks to boost trade and carve out a new role in the world ahead of the country’s departure from the European Union in March next year.

Britain will commit 61.4 million pounds ($87.21 million) at the summit to develop new ways of tackling plastic waste and help Commonwealth countries limit how much plastic ends up in the ocean.

“We are rallying Commonwealth countries to join us in the fight against marine plastic,” May said.

Also Read: Plastic-Eating Enzyme Accidentally Developed By Scientists

“Together we can effect real change so that future generations can enjoy a natural environment that is healthier than we currently find it.”

The statement said environment minister Michael Gove would launch a consultation later this year into the plan to ban the plastic items. It gave no details who the consultation would be with.  VOA

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