Sheer Melody

A mole's eye-view of the Cosmos


A thorny trail

In a rather significant jolt to concepts of freedom and democracy, the Indian government supposedly has blocked access to all of blogspot and typepad. For the uninitiated, these are blog sites enabling millions of web-users to jot down their comments, facts-of-life and general musings, yours truly being one of them.

Shivam Vij has his comment and his reaction on the whole fiasco:
Then I called up a senior MTNL engineer who’s in-charge of these things, Mr. R.H.Sharma. Mr Sharma was polite and helpful and said that he had a long 22-page of list of sites, sent to him by the National Informatics Centre, and he would needs two hours to go through it and find out if it contains any Blogspot or Typepad site! But he said that as far as he knew MTNL had not blocked blogspot per se. I called up a senior Spectranet official who confirmed that the Department of Telecommunications (not the Ministry of IT) had on Friday sent a list of sites to be blocked. This is the same list, it seems, that MTNL’s Sharma was telling me about. This list is not public. It deserves to be.

As Indian bloggers pen down their frustrations, and Mumbai recovers after the serial blasts of July the 7th, it seems ironical that in the aftermath of a disaster, India had to join the elite company of the less free nations of the world.

CERT-IN's (Computer Emergency Response Team of India) director, Gulshan Rai had a hilarious response to the whole issue: Somebody must have blocked some sites. What is your problem?

Banning of blogspot reminds Pakistan's tactics to thwart the spread of the Danish cartoons ridiculing Prophet Mohammed, and though it may look utterly strange and an extremely strange move, there is a slight possibility that Indian ISPs in overt zeal and enthusiasm, blocking entire domains when the requirement was the blocking of certain sensitive blogs hosted on blogspot and typepad. There is news floating in as I write that geocities weblogs have also been blocked in Mumbai via Airtel. With the above blanket-ban, India joins China, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in the list of countries which regulate access to the world-wide-web.

For the press coverage of the ban, please look here.

Interestingly, the following sites have also been blocked (courtesy: Ultrabrown)
As the blogging community cries itself hoarse on the issue, I sit back, and wonder, for the n'th time - Isn't it about time, we had more sensible and intelligent people in the team of people making important decisions in the government? Does the government think that terrorists would keep blogspot, a public forum as their one and only means of communication with each other? And, even if they actually do so, would they be so computer and internet-illiterate as to not know about web-proxies and anonymous browsing to circumvent such bans? And isn't it rather naive to believe that proponents of SIMI and terrorism would be ignorant of other webhosting sites like Yahoo! 360, Msn spaces, et al. Interesting questions, with no answers forthcoming!

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