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Over 800 porn sites banned in India following government crackdown

According to reports, the Indian government is blocking access to the pornographic sites, though actually stopping Indians from accessing pornography may prove impossible.

India has banned hundreds of pornographic websites, making it harder -- but not impossible -- for Indians to access the content. CNET

One of the world's largest markets for watching pornography has lost access to over 800 sites, according to reports.

Over the weekend, India's government called on Internet Service Providers (ISP) across the country to ban over 800 pornographic websites, several reports out of the country claim. Some of the world's most popular pornography sites, including Pornhub and Redtube, are currently inaccessible on most major ISP networks, Quartz India is reporting.

The reason for the ban is not entirely clear. India-based news outlet Hindustan Times cited government sources that claim the government forced ISPs to block the pornographic sites after they were "reviewed and found to be spreading anti-social activities." Another source told Quartz India that the government is not "challenging anybody's right to see the content," but rather to challenge their ability to "show the content."

Regardless, the ban again puts the spotlight on the place pornography takes in India and whether the country of nearly 1.3 billion people should have easy access to such content.

On July 9, the India Supreme Court ruled against a ban on pornography, arguing that any order to block pornographic websites would represent a breach of personal liberty. Chief Justice H.L. Dattu said that as long as a person of legal age is watching legal content "within the four walls" of his or her home, porn cannot be summarily banned.

Still, the Supreme Court noted that the ruling was an "interim order" and in hearings in August 2014, Dattu said that the issue of watching pornography in India is "definitely serious." During those hearings, the Indian government said that it was working on a policy that could see a crackdown in pornographic websites. It's possible that that policy has now gone into effect.

Pornography is extremely popular in India. Last November, Pornhub, one of the blocked sites and among the world's most popular pornographic websites, allowing users to stream videos over the Web for free, reported that India was its fifth-largest market. In January, Pornhub reported that India had jumped to fourth place by the end of 2014 -- a year that saw Pornhub users worldwide watch nearly 79 billion videos and visit the site 18.4 billion times. The US was the world's largest consumer of content on Pornhub, followed by the UK and Canada.

Despite the ban, India may have already discovered it's practically impossible for the country to actually ban pornography. Pornographic content is on a wide range of sites beyond those that have been banned and with help from several tech tools, including virtual private networks, there are ample ways for India's users to sidestep the blockade.

There is currently no word out of India whether more sites will be blocked or if further steps will be taken to ban pornographic sites.

India's Department of Telecommunications did not immediately respond to a request for comment.