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Indian government banning blogs?

This is just in via digg and other sources – apparently the Indian government has issued orders to ISPs to block blogging sites including blogspot.

One of the reasons cited for this is that blogs are apparently being used by terrorists to communicate and spread information. I think this is not only draconian, but quite ineffective: you can’t block out the whole net, terrorists can easily set up blogs outside of the standard services, and there are workarounds to the ban that have already been posted. Worse, if the identity of the alleged misinformation blogs were to be revealed, this move would only increase traffic to that site. It appears that the government only requested for a few particular blogs to be banned; however some private ISPs have reacted over enthusiastically and shut down entire blogspot or geocities domains.

Links: Amit Varma, Blog Censorship wiki, Censorship Google group.

If you are accessing from India, I’d appreciate if you leave a comment and let us know if your access is being blocked.

14 Comments

  1. kkaisare wrote:

    No such problems at this end. For now.

    Strange that the current government is attempting this. I always considered censorship to be one of the BJP’s specialities.

    Tuesday, July 18, 2006 at 2:47 am | Permalink
  2. vj wrote:

    this madness should stop
    hope sanity prevails

    Tuesday, July 18, 2006 at 3:25 am | Permalink
  3. kg wrote:

    Looks like the ISPs spoiled the execution of the plan by being outright lazy and have thrown in a blanket ban on the entire blogspot domain. What the government would have wished (if at all, that’s yet to be confirmed) is to silently cut off access to the sites deamed threatening to the national security. I would call the ISPs (and not the Govt.) as acting stupid from as much the info we have on the issue now.

    As for the existence of workarounds, I would agree it wouldn’t stop a determined person accessing what they want. But don’t you think it would at least make it difficult for the terrorists to gain audience to their malicious propoganda that would turn our own countrymen in to their zombies?

    Frankly, I wouldn’t mind parting with free speech if hundreds of my countrymen’s life are at stake and I would care the least about blogs – but that’s just my humble opinion.

    Tuesday, July 18, 2006 at 5:12 am | Permalink
  4. AC wrote:

    Whose hands are behind this move?

    They might as well ban the internet, mobile phones, land lines and newspapers while they are at it. Stupid. Simply stupid.

    Tuesday, July 18, 2006 at 9:01 am | Permalink
  5. kkaisare wrote:

    I may have spoken to soon.

    I have been unable to access any blogger pages since last night. My ISP is Net4India.

    Tuesday, July 18, 2006 at 10:48 am | Permalink
  6. kkaisare wrote:

    Anshul,

    The workaround you’ve mentioned is also a blogspot page – any chance you could copy-paste it here?

    Tuesday, July 18, 2006 at 10:51 am | Permalink
  7. Anshul wrote:

    kg: it’s a long winded debate; but at the end of the day, i think i will have to question whether one absolutely has to give up free speech to ensure safety. as i said, there is no evidence that there is propaganda on the Internet that could endanger the lives of millions of people or provoke riots or anything like that.

    AC: right you are. the whole thing stinks of idiocu.

    kkaisare: One of the workarounds is on this page: http://www.pkblogs.com/blogyouwanttoread.

    More are listed on the wiki site here: http://scratchpad.wikia.com/wiki/Bypassing_The_Ban.

    Tuesday, July 18, 2006 at 11:21 am | Permalink
  8. Namit wrote:

    Till yesterday everything was working fine. Today, my company firewall just says “The page cannot be displayed”, instead of the usual “site BLOCKED!!!” message that many talk about.

    Frustrating anyway!

    Tuesday, July 18, 2006 at 12:08 pm | Permalink
  9. Namit wrote:

    Whoa! I can’t even view my page using the listed methods. Anshul, can you see my blog?

    Tuesday, July 18, 2006 at 12:12 pm | Permalink
  10. Namit wrote:

    Another reason for the complete domain wipe-off is something like what happened a few months back. GoI asked for some of Yahoo newsgroups/mailing lists to be banned and the only option Indian ISPs had was to block of the entire domain. The reason I guess is that Yahoo or Blogger don’t co-operate and it’s difficult for ISPs to shut off access selectively. [Can’t find the link to the news article about the same.]

    Tuesday, July 18, 2006 at 12:21 pm | Permalink
  11. Anshul wrote:

    Namit: yeah, no problem accessing your blog from Singapore.

    I hope this whole thing gets settled soon; this kind of mass censorship is too much.

    Tuesday, July 18, 2006 at 12:54 pm | Permalink
  12. Amrita wrote:

    Hi friends,

    I am totally confused by the decision of DoT. There are so many questions are arising in my minds. What is the intention of Indian government behind the decision of blocking blog websites? Do they really want to serve the nation’s security or something else?

    Please help me to understand the whole thing……..

    Friday, July 21, 2006 at 7:30 pm | Permalink
  13. Anshul wrote:

    The ban has been lifted, so I guess it was some idiot in the government who acted without thinking. That is why we have checks and balances in place.

    Saturday, July 22, 2006 at 1:12 am | Permalink
  14. Nice post. I’ll return. when mistery is opponents it will make pair

    Monday, January 1, 2007 at 8:12 am | Permalink

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