Pornhub Deploys Mirror Site to Bypass Indian Porn Ban, While VPN Searches Spike

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The Indian Government has reinstated its ban on porn, instructing local ISPs to block 827 adult-themes websites. The list of blocked sites is similar to one that was issued in 2015, minus some "overblocked" sites, such as CollegeHumor. Unsurprisingly PornHub is still listed. Taking a page from blocked pirate sites, the adult empire has launched a mirror site. At the same time, Indian searches for "VPN" are spiking.

During the summer of 2015, the Internet witnessed one of the broadest website blockades in history.

With a single order, the Indian Government blocked millions of people from accessing 857 websites that were flagged for spreading porn.

The authorities argued that the sites threaten the morality and decency of Indians. Many Indians disagreed and there was some serious pushback when it turned out that sites such as CollegeHumor and 9Gag were blocked as well.

Following a public revolt, the Government lifted the ban after just a few days. However, that wasn’t the end of the saga. Last month, the Uttarakhand High Court reinstated the blockade.

To avoid the same mistakes as three years ago, the Ministry of Electronics and IT reviewed the list and scrapped 30 domains which weren’t porn sites. It then asked the Department of Telecom to call for a blockade of remaining 827 domains, which went into effect at several ISPs during the past few days.

The good news is that CollegeHumor and 9Gag have been spared this time, but that doesn’t mean that there is no outrage. Many Indians don’t want the Government to decide what they can and can’t watch, and porn mogul Pornhub isn’t happy either.

“There are no laws against pornography in India and watching adult content privately. It’s evident that the Indian government does not have a solution to a very serious and systemic problem in the country, and is using adult sites like ours as a scapegoat,” says Corey Price, Pornhub’s Vice President.

According to Pornhub, the people of India are among “largest connoisseurs of adult content,” which is also quite apparent from the company’s 2017 insights, where India is listed as the third country in terms of traffic.

The company says that it’s willing to work with the Indian Government to find a solution, stressing that it already has compliant parental controls and a strict terms of service.

“While we are anti-government censorship here at Pornhub, and ultimately disappointed in the ruling, we are willing to work alongside the government to address any concerns they have and help rectify the situation,” Price says.

For now, however, they are taking a page from the many pirate sites that have been blocked, launching the mirror site Pornhub.net, so Indians can still get their fix.

“In the meantime, to provide our Indian users with Pornhub content again as quickly as possible, we have set up a mirror site. We understand this has been a hard time for our fans and hope this will provide them with an outlet to help alleviate some of their stress.”

Aside from the mirror, there are of course plenty of other alternatives to bypass the block. Many Indians report that changing their DNS to Google or Cloudflare’s free services does the trick.

Alternatively, a VPN is also an option, including PornHub’s own VPNHub.

This VPN option appears to be on the mind of many Indians already. Looking at the Google trends graph showing the relative popularity of “VPN” searches, we see a clear surge around the time the porn blocks were starting to get implemented.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way…

Going up…

The full list of the 827 blocked websites has not been made public, but according to several sources it is similar to this order (pdf) from 2015, minus the 30 sites that were removed due to overblocking.

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