Pornography filters in India have little impact

By , IDG News Service |  Internet

Yahoo has had safe search filters, designed to limit certain adult or sexual content, activated in specific markets for a number a years, a Yahoo spokeswoman said in an e-mail. "In India we have activated safe search filters to meet our obligations under the local law and to our users," she added.

Indian users can however access links to pornographic sites and related images on the main Yahoo site www.yahoo.com.

Google does not by default screen pornographic text or images in India, as do Yahoo and Bing. It however offers users a SafeSearch Filtering option to modify the settings to moderately or strictly filter search results.

Google believes that its policy on safe search filters on its Indian site www.google.co.in is in compliance with local laws, and additionally, it does give users the ability to lock in SafeSearch, the company said in a statement. In the inadvertent event that some offensive content does appear, then any user can report it, and the appropriate support teams will take prompt and effective action in accordance with applicable policies, it added.

By providing options to users to modify their setting to view adult content, Google may not be complying strictly with the IT Act, according to Duggal.

Even as the search engines work out their own interpretations on how to comply with the law on online pornography, the Indian government is not taking a very serious note of pornographic Web sites.

"They recognize that they can't police volumes of data for pornography," Mukhi said.

Indian enforcement agencies tend to focus more on real-world crimes like murder, rape and kidnapping, than online obscenity, which is seen more as a form of deviant entertainment than as a serious criminal offense, Duggal said.

A senior police official said, on condition of anonymity, that curbing online pornographic entertainment was very low down on the list of priorities of the police.

Duggal estimated that there have been only two convictions in the country under Section 67 of the IT Act.

In one case a jilted male lover was convicted for circulating morphed images of a girl, while in the other case an individual was convicted for online obscenity.

The government can also instruct Internet service providers in the country to block pornographic Web sites. Except for one high-profile blocking of a cartoon pornographic Web site last year, there aren't any known other instances of obstructed access to pornographic sites.

The government knows it is impractical to try to control online pornography, but it makes good politics to have an antipornography law in place, Mukhi said.

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