Content regulation on the Internet is at the forefront of discussion in India due to a build up of events over the past 12 months. Last August the Department of Telecommunications to prevent telecommunication providers from allowing their customers to access 857 pornographic websites. This mandate was immediately appealed and subsequently overturned by the Supreme Court. Then, just a few weeks ago the Supreme Court has provided further clarification about how existing ‘decency’ law could apply in an online context, and requested the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) to assess this further. Though the initial mandate to block porn was focused on child pornography the Supreme Court has sought a much wider review.
The challenge is that there is no existing regulatory paradigm in India which considers all of the areas in where the internet is available, in-home, at school and in public places. There are content classification models for both print and broadcast media based on time of day access to content and advertising standards.