Mass Censorship in India


The world’s most populous democracy, and the fastest-growing industrialized nation in the world, recently took steps to block public access to certain blogs. The move was apparently an attempt to moderate certain religious speech, but backfired when Indian ISPs inadvertently blocked entire blog sites, not just the offending blogs.

Naturally, as with any attempt to censor the internet, this move brought out the activists in force. The Indian government seems to have responded today. Exactly how, is up for interpretation. Some sites are claiming that the ban has been lifted, while others indicate that the ban is still in place, but that the government is enforcing a “no more than 18 banned blogs” rule.

A press release from the Indian Department of Telecommunications suggests that their initial request to some ISPs to blck content was misunderstood or poorly implemented.

As such the DoT has now directed all the ISPs to strictly comply with the order dated 13th July 2006 and provide unhindered access to Internet except for the websites/webpages which have been specifically mentioned in its orders issued from time to time.

Not quite the First Amendment, but it’s nice that they’re taking the matter seriously.

The Hindu has published an editorial questioning the move, and points out another interesting aspect of the case, that of the relative silence of the ISPs themselves regarding this matter, who (according to The Hindu) “are used to issuing several press releases to the media in a week.”

No full explanation as to why the sites in question have been blocked, nor even which sites exactly were the target of the move has been offered by the Indian government.

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