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What’s happening with blogspot?

This is shocking! I thought one site was down till I read this story. I hope it gets resolved soon. I can’t access any blogspot blogs as of now…

And till then, you can use this URL to access blogspot blogs.

From Mutiny.in: “Two sources, one inside the Government of India and the other kind of inside/outside have confirmed to the Mutiny, that ISPs are being instructed to ‘control’ access to blogspot. It seems that some blogs are being used by some terror units (read SIMI) to communicate.”

Here’s the blogger collective group that has been formed.

Jace is following the ban and writes: “Get this, folks. This isn’t about censoring bloggers. This is about curtailment of civil rights of all internet users. That is what we should be fighting against.”

More on Boing-Boing.

Shivam Vij is following through on the phone.

A list of ISPs that seem to have blocked blogspot blogs.

And Anand manages to cling on to his sense of humour and the Great Bong hasn’t lost all his reasoning either! Don’t we need in the face of what’s going on?

A huge collection of links and discussion on Neha’s blog.

This from a Hindustan Times report that I found a little hard to swallow: “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….” 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.”

DNA India reports: “The blocking of the blogs seems to be the result of well-intentioned policing gone awry. Sources say the list of blocked websites included the names of specific blogs, but ISPs seemed to have blocked the service all together.”

Amit Varma writes: “Now, internet users across India have been unable since this weekend to access any sites hosted on Blogspot or Typepad, two popular domains for India-based blogs. (Geocities is also blocked.) Again, it seems that there isn’t a blanket ban on these blogs, merely a government order to block of couple of blogs that has gone awry.”

I am still shocked that they can take a decision to block blogs without any warning whatsoever. And more so because of the absolutely baseless reason given (SIMI activists passing information via blogs?!) So shouldn’t they be banning emails, going by that logic? And maybe even news sites which terrorists use to send subliminal messages to unsuspecting readers?

Also, it’s not just Indian blogs. It’s blogs on the blogspot domain which have been targetted. The reassurance however is that everything will be back to normal soon. But the very fact that they’ve been able to do something like this brings to the fore the fact that we can take nothing for granted in this country. We might as well be living in a Communist China or a Saudi Arabia or Pakistan for that matter. They might as well tell us to stay indoors (no crime), not watch television (no evil influences) and stay off the internet, email (no terrorism!). And there you go, the government would have done its job. Right.

What next?

Update (July 19): I’ve been offline the whole day until now but Ravi tipped me off the fact that metblogs.com is also down. Metblogs.com is a community of city based blogs and some of us belong to the Bangalore community. I do sincerely hope that this is not a part of the whole blocking/banning exercise and I’m also wondering if they are going to ban anything with the word blog on it now. It all gets more and more unbelievable by the day!

Here is a detailed post about “Using the Right To Information Act to find out if and why the GOI has blocked blogs in India”.

Update as of 9.45 pm: Metblogs.com servers have been down so that seems to be another unrelated problem and we can heave a sigh of relief.

Just watched over NDTV, (around 9.15 pm report), which interviewed a few bloggers including Dilip D’Souza. The DoT apparently is now transferring responsibility to the ISPs now. According to the news report, the government had asked a few web pages on certain domains to be blocked (hinduunity.org and exposingtheleft.blogspot.com being named as a few of them in a TOI report today), while the ISPs decided to implement a blanket ban on the domains instead.

Either out of their laziness or out of ignorance (both of which are a little difficult to believe). It seems to be a case of cat and mouse, with no one now wanting to take responsibility or decisions to revert the ban. While they try and work out who’s responsible, bloggers can in the meanwhile use the Right of Information Act (link above) to ask for some justification for this unwarranted and totally undemocratic action.

Kiran Karnik is reported to have said on the sidelines of the HR summit of Nasscom that the Internet being a free media, any attempts to block out some websites is not desirable.

I hope more influential folks are able to put pressure on the government to stop this undesirable and uncalled for action on blogs. In fact, if they are doing it with blogs today, what are the chances that they will not turn to all websites tomorrow? In fact, what is the guarantee that they don’t stop all email services so we can no longer communicate. And maybe they should stop telephones too going by their totally screwed up logic.

Jace has also written an article for the TOI about circumventing censorship. He’s written in detail about how to deal with your ISP blocking sites using Torpark. Another way, he writes, is to use Shy Surfer if you are behind a corporate firewall. More guides are available here.

As of now (10.15 pm) I am not able to access pkblogs.com or inblogs.net. Have they gotten to those too?

July 20 – Update: 12.11 am: Shivam Vij has some encouraging news at rediff.com, which reports that the blog ban will be lifted in 48 hours. This is according to what Amitabh Singhal, a spokesperson of the Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI) told him today. Quoting from the article: “Singhal said representatives of various ISPs met on Wednesday to discuss the issue after the media took it up earlier this week. He acknowledged that some ISPs — he insisted it wasn’t all — mistook the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) notice and blocked entire blog domains, adding that it was technically feasible to block a sub-domain and leave others still accessible.”

A list of 17 sites on the blocked list, with a few strange inclusions like princesskimberley.blogspot.com
which apparently has not been updated for a few years. And Exposing the Left, written by someone in Southern Illinois.

Read the whole report here.

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5 Comments

  1. Pingback: Just a little something » Blog ban updates

  2. sudhir says

    i agree, anything that is related national security has to closed, and we cant crib on this, i agree with the goverment

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