financialexpress - Blogs, websites go blank
N SHIVAPRIYA & HARSIMRAN SINGH
MUMBAI, JULY 17: Millions of domestic internet users could not access some of the world’s most popular blogs like geocities.com, blogspot.com and typepad.com, as the government ordered a blackout of around 18 sites for publishing content that was ‘anti-national’ and ‘against public interest’.
Blogging, particularly on fanatic and religious websites, had surged soon after the Mumbai bomb blasts on July 11. Over 25% of India’s 38 million internet users are active bloggers. Currently, there are over 120 million bloggers worldwide and multiplying at the rate of about 10 million per month. The number is expected to cross 160 million in 2006.
ISPs are believed to have been asked to block sites like bloodspot.com, hinduhumanrights.org, hinduuni-ty.org and clickatell.com, besides frontline blogs like the Google-owned blogsp-ot.com. Deepak Maheshwari, secretary of ISP Association of India said: “We have received a letter from DoT, asking us to block around 18 URLs.”
Though the communication, dated July 13, by the telcom department to ISPs lists specific pages/ websites, several ISPs have blocked all blogs because they were not equipped to filter specific pages. This could be because all websites hosted on blogspot.com, for instance, have the same IP address.
Blackout in Cyber space
Reliance was among the first to restrict access to these sites on Friday. By Monday, other ISPs including Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (which have the largest number of internet subscribers) also followed suit. Interestingly, Sify, also among the top ISPs, said it had not received any formal intimation from the DoT to block any website or blogs.
The move invited a strong reaction from the online community with a number of posts springing up all over the Internet. As per law, pornographic websites and websites containing inflammatory material promoting hate, violence or and terrorism, can be blocked.
Hindustan Times: 12 sites on Govt gag list
he government has instructed Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block 12 websites. The order has come in the wake of the Mumbai bomb blasts, and these websites are perceived to be anti-India. Unfortunately, one of these is blogger or blogspot.com, a Google affiliated site which hosts millions of blogs worldwide.
Sources in the government said that a circular was issued by the Home Affairs Ministry three days back asking the Ministry of Information and Technology to block the 12 websites which posted content maligning India. Hundreds of netizens tried unsuccessfully to log on to blogger.com on Monday. These bloggers exchanged flash messages to discover that none of them were being able to log on to the website.
Officials defended the decision saying, "We would like those people to come forward who access these (the 12) radical websites and please explain to us what are they missing from their lives in the absence of these sites."
Business Standard: Govt cracks down on websites, blogs
The Government of India's Department of Telecom has asked Internet Service Providers to shut down some 20 'objectionable' websites and blogs. The order was received by the legal departments in some ISPs, whose spokespersons Business Standard spoke to. The notice is believed to have gone out on Friday last week.
The DoT is of the opinion that some of these sites were being used by banned organisations to transmit messages to their colleagues. Blog entries cannot be tracked as easily as email. The sites that were asked to be blocked include hindunity.og and exposingtheleft.blogspot.com. All ISPs do not seem to have implemented the ban uniformly, yet. Bloggers in India meanwhile complained that they were having problems accessing popular blogs on the Google owned blogspot. There are some 150 ISPs in India.
Access to all blogs and websites hosted on the following servers is currently blocked in India.
Here is a list of ISPs blocking Blogger - Tata Indicom, Spectranet, Reliance Powersurfer, Airtel, MTNL, Sify, Exatt, Primus, In2cable, Iqara, Pacenet and Hathway.
Indian Express: Post 7/11, Govt targets ‘extreme’ websites, bloggers on the blink
SULAKSHANA GUPTA / Pragya Singh
MUMBAI, NEW DELHI, JULY 17:The fast-growing community of online bloggers has borne the brunt of the government’s decision to block some 20 websites in a post-Mumbai show of force. Some of the websites that have been blocked are Dalitstan.org, Clickatell.com, Hinduhumanrights.org and Hinduunity.com.
But the most harried Internet users were the bloggers, who couldn’t access Blogspot.com, Typepad.com or Geocities.com pages. Sources in ISPs in Delhi as well as Mumbai confirmed that the one blog government has asked them to block is Princesskimberly.blogspot.com. ( Mirrored here )
It seems the order posed technical problems, resulting in a blanket ban on all blogs. ‘‘You cannot block a single page on blogspot.com, which is why all of them are getting blocked,’’ said Neha Viswanathan, Regional Editor, South Asia, Globalvoicesonline.org from London.
The Indian order was issued on July 13, sources in the Ministry of Telecom confirmed, though the Computer Emergency Response Team (India), part of a global cyber-security network set up three years ago, did not announce the bans officially.
Only sources in several ISPs such as Spectranet and Airtel confirmed that they had received the site-blocking order. R Grewal, a spokesperson for Spectranet confirmed: ‘‘We received a list of over 20 websites to block from the Department of Telecom, and this (Blogspot.com) was one of them.’’
Apparently, all the websites blocked are said to express “extreme religious views.”
MTNL officials said they were handed a 22-page document detailing the sites to block a month ago. “It came from the National Informatics Centre (NIC). It was the first time that they had done something of this nature,’’ says RH Sharma, sub-divisional engineer for MTNL in Delhi.
Government sources confirmed late in the evening that some websites have been blocked based on police reports that they were fuelling hatred. They denied that the Mumbai blasts had anything to do with censorship and that security checks on the blocked sites were on since before the terrorist attacks.
IndiaTimes: DoT casts a cloud on bloggers' paradise
MUMBAI/DELHI: The central government, reeling under fierce criticism of its response to the Mumbai blasts, has struck a blow at the online community by issuing orders to block blogs across the country.
The Department of Telecommunications has sent a notice to internet service providers (ISPs) to block around 17-18 websites on the internet. DoT usually sends such notices of censorship only when it finds objectionable, anti-national content or anything against public interest on these websites.
Experts believe that the government’s sudden move is aimed at thwarting the use of blogs (online journals) and websites by terrorists and their supporters. Blogspot, a Google-owned site, is among those blocked by this government measure.
However, among the apparently ‘anti-national’ sites blocked by this policy are those like the MumbaiHelp blogspot, which was a lifeline for people post the Tuesday blasts in Mumbai, giving information about critical numbers to contact and details about the dead and injured.
To compound the absurdity, it’s still possible to get onto this site — but only by logging on through www.pkblogs.com, a site set up by Pakistani bloggers to get around the blog ban that their government had put in place after the Danish cartoons episode. In short, thanks to this new policy, a blog to help the victims of a possibly Pakistan-inspired attack can only be accessed through a Pakistani site!
Peter Griffin, one of the founders of the MumbaiHelp blog, points out that the government’s policy is particularly futile, given the explosion of the blog universe. “Apart from free blogs like blogspot, which is what the government seems to be targeting now, there are also private blogs that anyone can put on their site, and the blogs being run by media organisations like CNN and the Guardian. Is the government going to shut them all down? It would probably be simpler for them to decide to close off the whole Internet and then only allow selected sites the way China seems to be doing. Is this really the way India wants to go?”
Deepak Maheshwary, secretary of the Internet Service Provider Association of India (ISPAI) confirmed that most of the ISPs have received the DoT notice and have blocked these websites. He also added that some ISPs have not received the notice, but may get it today, and will also be blocking these websites. He refused to give the names of the blocked sites.
The DoT had sent this notice to all ISPs on Friday, and some of the ISPs have started blocking these websites. While it could not be confirmed from the ISPs whether they have blocked these sites, internet users were not able to get through to certain websites.
The process followed for blocking is as follows: The Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) reports on the presence of websites or content that is anti-national or against public interest to DoT. DoT then issues a notice to all ISPs — more than 100 across the country — to block these websites.
Over the past six years, DoT has blocked more than 100 websites. Generally, a DoT notice has one or two names of websites to be blocked. This time around the notice had more than 17 names.
The online community has already started debating and criticising the government’s decision to block blogs. The online community also claims that some of the ISPs have started blocking the whole domain Blogspot. If the domain name is blocked by the ISPs than none of the websites on that domain can be accessed by subscribers. For instance, if the domain name like Blogspot or Typepad are blocked, then all the blogs on these domains cannot be accessed.
Sources say that sometimes when the government gives a particular website or URL address to be blocked, it cannot be done unless the domain name is blocked. This is why some of the ISPs have blocked access to all websites hosted by one provider.
Many of the ISPs could not be contacted for comment on the issue. When contacted, Sify officials vehemently denied that they had received any notice from DoT to block any site. They also denied that they have blocked any sites. According to sources, the rationale for blocking these websites and blogs is to prevent foreign terrorists from communicating with the cell networks in India.
NDTV: Bloggers criticise jamming of blog sites
The major blog sites including blogspot.com, a site meant to set up new blogs, have been jammed in the last couple of days.
It isn't clear who has blocked these popular sites but unconfirmed reports say the Department of Telecom has issued orders to Internet service providers to block the websites.
There have been angry responses to the blocking of several blogs in India.
The order came from the Department of Information Technology, which handles cyber security reportedly on the advice of intelligence agencies.
"All blogs on blogspot.com have been blocked by our Ministry of Communication. All of our blogs are visible to people outside India, but we can't view our own blogs or other blogs at blogspot.com from within India," said Aparna Muralidhar, Bangalore.
"It is not ok. Personal sites should not be stopped. It doesn't make sense," said Ishita from Delhi.
"There is a lot of propaganda about blogs being used for spreading political views but for people who are not part of it, it is very frustrating to not get through to sites that are private," she added.
However, there's yet no official word from either the telecom minister or the home ministry on the order which was apparently passed on Friday.
Some more links :
A forum - Bloggers Collective
A Wiki (I-heart-wikis) - Bloggers Against Censorship
From the Wiki: