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    India's Online Porn Ban Actually Caused Consumption to Surge, Research Suggests

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    With new sites cropping up every day and proxy servers giving many users unrestricted access online, internet users in India have proved that banning websites is an effective way of countering porn consumption, according to research.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — The Indian government's efforts to counter internet porn consumption in the country by blocking sites has proven to be ineffective, the Hindustan Times newspaper reports

    Last October, authorities ordered all internet service providers to block user access to 827 websites following a directive by the Uttarakhand High Court. Website analytics data proves that the move has not been successful and may have actually backfired, in epic fashion.

    Contrary to the government's plan, data proves that while traffic to the blocked websites has dipped, overall consumption of internet porn might have increased following the ban. The study found the traffic to have shifted to other unblocked sites, while many users also resorted to proxy servers to circumvent the censorship. 

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    Data complied by web analytics company SimilarWeb for 59 of the banned websites shows monthly visits between January and October 2018, prior to the implementation of the ban, to have averaged 1.7 billion, with the figure dropping to 0.8 billion visits per month — almost a 50 per cent drop — in the two months immediately after the ban.

    However, this decline fails to take into account traffic to at least 441 other websites which recently gained popularity and currently aren't banned, the study stresses.

    The "total visits" data on the banned and non-banned new porn sites combined stood at 2.8 billion visits in both November and December, which is more than the pre-ban monthly average; this suggests that website blocking has actually increased traffic to porn sites.

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    The study also found that around 345 of the 827 porn sites banned are still accessible to users in India, indicating that the blocking measures have not been technically effective.

    Researchers are of the opinion that banning porn is neither practical nor effective.

    "It's not possible to ban anything on the internet. It's futile. China banned 20,000 porn websites last year but people there still consume porn in different ways. Even if they had banned 20,000 websites, the results we got would have been similar as there are new websites coming up every single day," Aditya Gautam, researcher and author of the book ‘Pornistan: How to Survive the Porn Epidemic in India'," told the Hindustan Times. 

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