Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Blogs blocked in India

Bloggers in India are angry with the government for blocking access to their blogs hosted by Blogger, Typepad and Blogsite since the weekend. From The Hindu:
The Indian portal, Rediff.com was the first to report the trend on Sunday, quoting a Gurgaon teacher, Mridula Dwivedi, who had discovered the anomaly while trying to visit Blogsite.com blog. Since then, other bloggers established that the "cyber gag" had emanated from a communication from the Central Government on July 13 to all the ISPs, listing some 20 odd sites — mostly blogs — which were to be blocked forthwith.

Coming within days of the Mumbai train blasts, this was seen to be a belated attempt to cut off the lines of communication of extremist groups who might be spreading inflammatory or anti-national messages.

But instead of blocking those specific Web addresses, most service providers seem to have taken the easier way out: they have shut off wholesale all major blogging sites, thereby affecting thousands of lay bloggers whose postings were innocuous.
The Indian government said that it's intention was to ban 17 websites but ended up blocking access to thousands. It has pointed the blame at Indian ISPs. From Hindustan Times:
Dr Gulshan Rai, director of the Computer Emergency Response Team, the apex organisation under the IT Ministry responsible for the nation's cyber-security, told HT: "There's no attempt to block www.blogspot.com from our side. The order issued by the DoT has four blogs hosted on Blogspot.com. The order didn't ask the whole site to be banned."

Then why isn't any Blogspot site opening on most computers? The answer lies in the way our internet service providers -- like Tata, Airtel, Sify and Reliance -- have implemented the order.

"Indian ISPs don't have the technology to block individual name servers -- say a particular blog hosted on Blogspot. So they had no choice but to block the root servers of major blogging networks -- blogspot, geocities and typepad," said a senior official in the IT Ministry. A senior official from an ISP confirmed this.
Meanwhile, this blunder by the Indian government has tarnished India's image in the foreign media. From The Statesman:
By Tuesday afternoon most of the world’s major blogger bastions like BoingBoing.com and Digg.com were discussing the censorship. Mainstream media such as The Inquirer and The Guardian were also slamming the move.

At Digg, one user named CaptainSparrow wrote: “For a democracy like India, this is a shame… censoring is different from blocking/banning… if media ain’t free, fear creeps in… and it wont be a democracy no more... can’t watch India walking in the footsteps of China.” OB Kenobi throws in his bit as he says: “Maybe we should block all those Indian customer service outsourcers”.

The situation is best summed up by Mr Griffin when he said: “The whole world will be laughing at India and its obvious incompetence and lack of knowledge reflected in an ill-conceived and poorly executed Internet ban.”
Update: IZ Reloaded reader Jeevan writes, "I use pkblogs.com to read your blog from India. It is a free blog gateway that allows you to access blogs that are banned in China, Iran and India." (Thanks Jeevan)

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are right. It is ridiculous and pathetic to ban blogs and websites. I don\'t know who advised the technologically immature mandarins in Delhi. It\'s a shame!

mr black said...

why can't they just contact blogspot or typepad to get the particular blog blocked for users in india instead of banning all the blogs???

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