The Indian Blogosphere is abuzz with speculation about the blocking of all blogs hosted on Blogspot. It first came to my notice when one of friend asked me if I could view his blog (hosted on blogspot). I could, but apparently his ISP was blocking it. On doing some research I found that ISP’s like Reliance Infocom, MTNL, and Tata Internet Services were blocking blogspot blogs. Over the last couple of days more and more ISP’s have implemented the ban on blogspot. Now my ISP Dataone has also blocked blogs hosted on Blogspot (however the main site is accesible). As far as I know, there hasn’t been any public explanation given by the government, however since this comes on the wake of Mumbai blasts, many people feel that they are interconnected. It may be possible that terrorist are using innocuous looking blogposts for communication; however, mass banning blogspot certainly wont solve the problem. After all, there are several blog-hosting services like wordpress.com, livejournal, rediff. Its also very easy to anonymously set up blogs using free hosting services. And why only blogs ? Social Networking sites and forums will probably be more convenient for terrorists. So this kind of a mass ban on blogspot serves no purpose, if indeed this has been done to thwart terrorists. However, it’s probably better to wait for an explanation from the government before blaming them. I remember that in 2003, the government had asked internet service providers to block certain unlawful yahoo groups, but the idiotic ISPs ended up blocking yahoo groups in it’s entirety! Its highly probable that a similar incident has happened in this case also. After all, the Indian ISPs aren’t the smartest around.
#18th July : It seems that I was right. Apparently the Indian government had asked the ISPs to block only specified blogs hosted on blogspot, typepad etc as well as some yahoo geocities site. I am quoting bits and pieces I picked up from other blog and forums.
Gnurag writes ( Thinkdigit ) :
This news has been published in all major newspapers today. Seems like the media has taken this issue very seriously.
Initial guesses it seems that they have setup rules on ISPs routers which block any IP addresses that belong to Blogger, Typepad, Geocities etc..
Rediff says :
J Grewal, Spectranet’s Delhi representative at the National Internet exchange of India, told this reporter that, on July 15, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had sent ISPs a list of sites to be blocked. R H Sharma, senior engineer with MTNL, said the list ran into some 22 pages.
Anil Saxena of Spectranet confirmed that the list sent by the DoT contained names of particular blogs, but added that Blogspot as a whole had not been blocked. This is contrary to the experience of customers like Dwivedi, who are still unable to view sites hosted on Blogspot, in addition to those on Typepad and Yahoo!’s Geocities. “The list is confidential and I can’t make it public,” said Saxena.
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.
You can find a list of ISPs blocking Blogspot at the moment over here .
Voice your opinion about this at BloggersCollective , or submit an application under the RTI act following the instructions available here .
Lets hope that the Indian ISPs will sort this thing out soon! Meanwhile you can use websites like http://www.the-cloak.com/ or http://www.hidemyass.com/ for checking out blocked sites.
#19th July : Some more information from CNN-IBN :
‘Are we heading towards another Emergency?’
Internet users were in for a mind -‘blog’gling experience on Monday when they could not access Blogspot, one of the most popular blog-hosting websites.
After the July 11 Mumbai blasts, a Government order had directed all Internet service providers (ISP) to block access to certain websites.
But why the gag?
ISPs say they were asked to block countrywide access to a list of nearly 20 websites, including Dalitstan.org, Clickatell.com, Hinduunity.com, Princesskimberly.blogspot.com and Hinduhumanrights.org, as they spread “extreme views”.
From Yahoo! India :
“The Indian Internet service providers don’t have the technological wherewithal to block specific blogs on a blogging site. Consequently, they ended up blocking the entire site,” said technology expert Pawan Duggal.
So, now its confirmed that the Indian Government didnt ask the ISPs to block all websites hosted on Blogspot, Typepad and Geocities. Its the over zealous and incompetent ISPs are to be blamed for this fiasco. However, the Indian Media is giving a lot of importance to this story. Infact CNN-IBN is telecasting this story just after the news about Mumbai blasts. So hopefully things will get sorted out soon.
#20th July : I am glad to report that the ban has been lifted by most ISPs including my ISP – Dataone.
#22nd July : From Sify
DoT seeks explanation from ISPs for blocking sites
Under attack for blocking 18 websites in the aftermath of the Mumbai blasts last week, the government on Thursday asked Internet Service Providers to provide “unhindered access” to net users except for some specified webpages.
Referring to its instructions through a communication to ISPs on July 13, the DoT said that it had come to its notice that in some cases the parent website had been blocked in contravention to what was stated in its order. The July 13, 2006 order had sought blocking of only certain websites/webpages.
In a statement, the DoT directed all the ISPs to strictly comply with the order dated July 13 and provide unhindered access to Internet except for the websites/webpages which have been specifically mentioned in its orders issued from time to time.
The DoT has further sought explanation from the erring ISPs as to why action be not taken against them for blocking unintended websites/webpages.
One of the sites which has been banned by the government is http://www.rahulyadav.com/ . It just seems to be a personal blog to me. The webmaster claims that the site has been blocked because it contained links to various political groups in the Links section of the website. If that is true, its again very disturbing.