Jayesh MansukhaniJul 18, 2006 12:00:16 IST
The Indian Government has issued an order to all Indian ISPs for a ban on various blogging sites. While no official release has been made on this front, the reasons being attributed to this ban range from it being a preventive measure to stop sleeper terrorist cells from accessing instructions contained in blogs, to a new measure to try and control the spread of information through blogs. The order was issued by Department of Telecommunications (DoT). The known list of blocked domains is *.blogspot.com, *.typepad.com and geocities.com/*.
It leads me to wonder if this is a case of ISPs overreacting, which would not be the first. Three years ago, they had rather zealously blocked groups.yahoo.com in a similar manner when all they wanted to actually do was to block a particular group. As of now most of the large ISPs have already complied with the DoT order and a large population of Indian bloggers has been cut off from their own blogs. Keep checking back here, as we will post more news on this story whenever available.
Here is a a list of Indian ISPs who have already complied with this order.
Update: Rediff has carried a comprehensive story on this.
It seems the first person to discover this block was Mridula Dwivedi, a teacher of management studies in Gurgaon, who first discovered that visiting any blogspot blog - such as, say Mumbai Help - returned the message 'Site Blocked!' The plot began to thicken when her ISP, Spectranet, confirmed they had blocked some sites based on government directives.
In other quarters, J Grewal, Spectranet's Delhi representative at the National Internet Exchange of India, has told Rediff that on July 15, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had sent ISPs a list of sites to be blocked. In response to this blockage, several bloggers have banded together and are putting together a plan to file a Right to Information application to obtain the list.
This will made be possible under the Information Technology Act, 2000, through a body called the Computer Emergency Response Team, or CERT-IN, which was was created as an oversight committee similar to such bodies the world over. Although it's main mandate is to ensure full security of the Internet in India, it also oversees Internet censorship under a clause that seeks to ensure 'balanced flow of information.' Under its purview, any government department seeking a block on any web site has to approach CERT-IN, which then instructs the DoT to block the site after confirming the authenticity of the complaint. Web sites can be blocked if they contain pornography, speeches of hate, contempt, slander or defamation or if they promote gambling, racism, violence or terrorism.
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