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Indian Government bans more than 200 websites offering escort services

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While the government had earlier axed up pornographic websites (and received massive backlash on the same), it is now banning access to 240 websites which offer escort services under the ever-flexible IT Rules, 2009.

The same has been done on the directions of an expert committee under Ministry of Home Affairs. In a statement given to Press Trust of India (PTI), an IT official said,

The order to block 240 escorts websites was issued to internet service providers on Monday on recommendations made by an expert committee under the Ministry of Home Affairs.

He further added that any complaints or representations by aggrieved persons or party are to be made before the committee who then takes a call on it.

ISPs unsupportive

However, ISPs are not too happy about the order and have criticised the move as many believe that the whole effort is in fact directionless and hardly likely to bear any result. This is because people only need to change a word or alphabet in the web address and the website would start working again.

Content of all the websites cannot be blocked. The order has been issued without going into technical nitty gritty around it. If a website changes the name or link slightly, it will again start working,

said an executive of ISP.

Another executive objected on the same grounds and said,

This exercise is a non-starter from the beginning. The moment we block one site, there will be 10 new ones that will spring up with different names. Also, they can easily retain the same name by changing one alphabet. It just takes a few minutes to do so.

Many ISPs have alternatively suggested blocking escort advertisements in newspapers and asked the government to track these services. The tracking can be done in person through mobile numbers and other contact information given on the websites rather than this half-hearted approach.

Moreover, it is also revealed that websites which have been blocked are Indian-origin websites while other sites are fully operational. A majority of the blocked websites are speculated to be linked to Mumbai in some way or the other.

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