Did Commuters in Patna Really Use The Free Wi-Fi to Mostly Watch Porn?

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Free Wi-Fi is a boon for internet users. India, a home for 1.3 billion people, got free Wi-Fi services by Google and Railtel across 23 railway stations. According to reports citing IANS, Patna is the top user of this free Wi-Fi service, and mostly for watching porn. YouTube and Wikipedia are the other most used sites through the service. After Patna, Jaipur is the second highest user of internet searches, followed by Bengaluru and New Delhi. Patna is the first station in Bihar to get free Wi-Fi, last month, which sees 200 trains passing through it every day. Moreover, two years ago, when the government introduced free Wi-Fi, it was mostly used to download movies.

How True is the Report?

RailTel, however, has denied the report that the free Wi-Fi service was mostly used to access porn sites.

Being an internet service provider, RailTel does not keep watch over the website browsed by users. The guidelines being issued by the Department of Telecommunications in this regard, from time to time, are strictly complied with by RailTel, said a RailTel spokesperson.

Google has not commented on this matter yet but said that they are conducting a survey to find out details about the data usage in these free Wi-Fi zones.

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Google and RailTel’s Free Wi-Fi Scenario

Indian Railways is one of the largest transport networks in the world connecting about 8,000 stations with over 12,000 trains, serving 23 million passengers on a daily basis. Also, it is considered as a hub for people coming from various parts of the country. Moreover, currently, there are 204.1 million smartphone users and 350 million internet users in India which mean there are still around 1 billion users who are devoid of smartphones and mobile internet. And with the number of users joining the free Wi-Fi service, the initiative of providing free WiFi at railways stations by Google is well appreciated and welcomed by Indians.

About 20 lakh people are logging on to the service every month, using as much as 15 times the data they would otherwise use in a full-day on their cellular networks. Google aims to provide high-speed public Wi-Fi service at 100 railway stations by the end of this year. Moreover, the rail minister aims at making this service available at 4,00 railway stations by 2017.

The service was launched under the Digital India initiative with a motive to bridge the digital divide across the country. The service was started with a better purpose that watching pornographic contents. People accessing to porn sites through free public Wi-Fi is a negative exploitation of the resource. The regulatory authority can keep a check on this issue by banning such unwanted sited on the Wi-Fi networks. This can be done by allowing access to only relevant websites over the network.

Even Facebook is focusing on providing express Wi-Fi on small railway stations and villages to accelerate the digitisation process in India. The giants are very well aware of the exploding adoption of smartphones and internet in the country, and no one wants to miss the opportunity to tap the significant chunk of the users.

Porn in India

In the previous year, the government of India has ordered Internet Service Providers (ISP) to block access to 857 porn sites, which was said to be a move to prevent children from accessing them. However, a week later, a new order was released asking the service providers to block access to only those sites which have child pornographic content.

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According to a report by an adult site, Pornhub, India is its third largest source of traffic in 2015. In India, Delhi topped porn viewership followed by Chennai and Hyderabad. Mumbai and Kolkata were ranked fourth and fifth respectively. All the five cities fall under the metropolitan cities category.

With Metropolitan cities topping the charts about porn viewership, and Patna topping movie downloads earlier, it is surprising that Patna is said to have topped the list of free Wi-Fi usage, that too for mostly watching pornographic content. Moreover, even RailTel claims that they always stick to the guidelines issued by Department of Telecommunication. We can only wait for the data which can prove whether the report is true or not.

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