India has ordered internet service providers to block access to more than 850 adult websites in what the government has described as a way to protect social decency, media reports say.

NN Kaul, a spokesperson for India’s telecoms department, said on Monday that the government was trying to control easy access to pornography following a directive from the country’s Supreme Court.

Kaul said that while ISPs in India will have to bar access, users may still view the sites through virtual private networks and proxy servers.

He said the move would protect children.

The leaked government order, dated last Friday, asks ISPs to block access to the 857 sites on grounds of morality and decency.

While the government initially denied any such decision, the Times of India newspaper, quoting government sources, reported that the denial of access was a temporary one, and more of a prelude to the creation of a regular regulatory oversight.

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