According to an AFP report on IOL News, India’s Department of Telecommunications has instructed domestic internet service providers (ISPs) to block around 857 pornographic websites.

This is despite the Supreme Court of India ruling earlier last month that the government cannot ban porn sites, as it would be in violation of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees the rights of all citizens to personal liberty. But the government is now playing a linguistic game of legalese with the courts, stating that they are not banning the right of citizens to view porn, but rather the right of websites to show porn.

Thankfully, there are many ways to circumvent the unconstitutional and illiberal excesses of government, as Quartz India reported recently. What they fail to mention is the very useful application known as TOR, which can be found at www.torproject.org. According to the TOR Project website:

“Tor’s users employ this network by connecting through a series of virtual tunnels rather than making a direct connection, thus allowing both organizations and individuals to share information over public networks without compromising their privacy. Along the same line, Tor is an effective censorship circumvention tool, allowing its users to reach otherwise blocked destinations or content.”

By all accounts it appears that the Indian social media network has come out largely in opposition to these measures by their government. As was heard in the Supreme Court, the most common objection to the ban is ‘why exactly is the government trying to tell adults what they can and cannot look at inside their own homes?’

Obviously, this would not have happened in the first place had organizations and activists not called for it. Be it leftists who believe pornography ‘objectifies women’ or rightists who believe it chips away at the ‘moral fabric of society’, it is the close minded elements within civil society who usually champion the inevitable oppression citizens suffer at the hands of their governments. I have been unable to identify specifically which Indian civil society entities were driving this initiative, however.

India has often been hailed as the world’s largest democracy. But does democracy truly exist when the people (demos) cannot rule (kratos) themselves? Here’s hoping the Indian Supreme Court will declare the government’s trickery of legal language to be inconsequential to its prior order, and reverse this draconian, moral policing measure.

Martin is the Academic Programs Director for Students For Liberty in Southern Africa (www.studentsforliberty.org/africa/). He is a co-founder and editor of the Rational Standard and the Editor in Chief of Being Libertarian (www.beinglibertarian.com). You can find him on Facebook or contact him via email at [email protected]