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India will restore free access to 857 pornographic websites, following widespread outrage over the move.

The department of telecom told internet service providers not to disable URLs that “do not have child pornographic content”, the PTI agency reported.

The government denied charges of moral policing, saying it wanted to prevent children from accessing the sites.

In July, the Supreme Court criticised the government’s inability to block sites featuring child pornography.

Communications and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad met senior officials on Tuesday to review the ban and decided that internet service providers (ISPs) would be immediately asked not to block those sites which did not contain any child pornography.

However, service providers have said the fresh directive is unreasonable.

“How can the government put the responsibility on us to see whether a website carries child pornography or not?,” the head of the India Internet Service Providers Association told the Times of India.

News of the ban caused a furore on Indian social media, with several senior politicians and members of civil society expressing their opposition to the move.

The Indian government said that it was merely complying with the Supreme Court order and was committed to the freedom of communication on the Internet.

“I reject with contempt the charge that it is a Talibani government, as being said by some of the critics. Our government supports free media, respects communication on social media and has respected freedom of communication always,” Mr Prasad told PTI. (BBC)