In a move that shocked the enitre world, let alone the nation, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) issued a block order to 32 popular websites, effective immediately, last night. There was no direct reasoning given for the ban.
Following a massive social media protest, Arvind Gupta, BJP’s National head for IT tweeted that the websites were blocked following the advisory of ATS. No, I am not kidding in any way. Check out his tweet.
The websites that have been blocked were based on an advisory by Anti Terrorism Squad, and were carrying Anti India content from ISIS. 1/2
— Arvind Gupta (@buzzindelhi) December 31, 2014
The sites are still not accessible via BSNL or Vodafone. Maybe in a few hours.
Now comes the burning question, what is going to stop the propagandists from moving the content (if any) to any other hosting service. According to a report by The Times of India, Gulshan Rai, the director India’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) has elaborated on the matter. He has said that the directions to block the said 32 websites were issued to the ISPs following the directions of a Mumbai additional chief metropolitan magistrate’s November order.[pull_quote_right author=”Poonam Sharma”]This only proves ATS is an idiot. If terrorists use buses, phones & Whatsapp, you’ll block whole system? #GOIBlocks[/pull_quote_right]
According to Rai, the 32 websites in the list of blocked sites were used to spread ISIS propaganda and used to hire youths to join ISIS. CERT-In had contacted the websites in the past to remove objectionable content, but these sites ignored the government’s requests. Rai stated that some of these sites which have been unblocked have agreed to work with the government.
So far so good? Enter Pranesh Prakash, a policy director at Bengaluru-based Center for Internet and Society. He took to twitter to question the real motives behind these blanket blocks. (#GOIBlocks timeline)
He did question the lack of transparency around the practice of blocking websites under the Indian law.
Qn for govt: Why does the law require secrecy of web blocking orders when it doesn’t allow such secrecy for books, films? #GoIBlocks.
The 69A Rules don’t allow for transparency, accountability, time-limits on blocks, etc. So easily misused by govt. + courts + individuals.
The websites were blocked under section 69 A of the IT Act, 2000 and the IT (Procedure and safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) rules, 2009. Read out the full text, here.
Someone needs to look into the policy and make the necessary changes. Fast! There are circumstances in which freedom of speech and expression may legitimately be limited. Back in 2012, the government imposed the five text messages only rule.
This was informed to the companies beforehand. However, there is no clear evidence that the authorities reached out to several of the blocked sites. According to the act, the persons and intermediaries hosting the content should have been notified provided 48 hours to respond.
— Pranesh Prakash (@pranesh_prakash) January 2, 2015
Think of the companies and Indian developers that use GitHub for collaboration or pastebin. The small schools and colleges who use Weebly for creating their websites?
My question for the Indian Government is that why not ban them all? The ISIS guy Arif Majeed and the Bengaluru professional Mehdi Biswas were arrested for allegedly spreading ISIS propaganda on Twitter. Then why not ban Twitter? Follow the footsteps of China and start banning emails as well or better still, take it a notch higher that will even make Kim Jong-un feel like a nursery principal.
The Indian media is still keen on setting up panels for discussion on whether PK should be banned or not. We live in a country which has the second highest number of IT professionals in the world. Surely they could have managed to get hold of 4 people who could discuss on why this was not a great move. (that would have been pathetic though, remember Cloud Computing?)
Check out an excerpt from Arvind Gupta’s article on LiveMint:
…with the right impetus, it is quite possible to create the next Google, Facebook, WhatsApp out of India.
And then you go ahead and ban GitHub. Go Figure!
(Lots of conent has been taken from a variety of sites for research and many opinions that are of the respective authors. While every possible care has been taken that the due credits have been given, if you find something not acknowledged, feel free to contact us)