India Lifts Blanket Ban On Blogs; Only Certain Subdomains To Be Blocked

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Sooner or later, they had to do this. The Indian government has instructed the country’s Internet-service providers to lift the blanket ban on popular blog hosting companies like Blogspot, Typepad and Geocities. Now only a select 15 or 17 websites (basically the sub domains which allegedly contain derogatory remarks about some religions) will be blocked for access.
According to a report in The Economic Times, the blockage will be lifted in the next 48 hours and barring these 17 blogs, every other blog hosted on these blog service providers will be accessible.
The Wall Street Journal quotes Amitabh Singhal, a spokesperson for the Internet Service Providers Association of India, “The association has sent out an advisory to all members to configure their servers and block only the subdomains and not entire sites…In their haste to comply with the government orders, [ISPs] blocked the [Internet] addresses, and that was a mistake.”
Here, BBC has an article on Indian bloggers venting venom against the government for taking such a drastic step and not really explaining the action.
I put the blame on ISPs. When the government tells them to sit, they crawl.

In response to a mail from Sree Srinivasan of the South Asian Journalists Association to the Indian Embassy in the US, here is the response of the Deputy Consul General.

July 19, 2006

Dear Sree:

Reference our discussions and correspondence on the issue of blocking of blogs in India, we had taken up the matter with the authorities concerned in the Department of Telecommunications in the Government of India and the facts are as under:

A two-page write up containing extremely derogatory references to Islam and the holy prophet which had the potential to inflame religious sensitivities in India and create serious law and order problems in the country appeared in a blog facilitated by well known search engines. The matter was immediately taken note of by our CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) and the Department of Telecommunications (DOT) was informed of it.

The DOT took up the matter forthwith with the search engines and instructions were also issued to all Internet providers to block the two impertinent pages. Because of a technological error, the Internet providers went beyond what was expected of them which in turn resulted in the unfortunate blocking of all blogs. Department of Telecommunications have now clarified the issue and the error is being rectified and it is expected that normalcy in respect of blogs will soon be restored.

This is for your information.

A.R. Ghanashyam
Deputy Consul General
New York

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