Monday, July 17, 2006

Indian Blog Ban Outrage

[UPDATE: The ban has been lifted. Still didn't make any sense].

It's hard to understand how the current Indian government ban on Blogspot, Typepad, Geocities, and other major web domains can possibly be justified as an anti-terrorism strategy. Apparently some people involved with banned groups like SIMI have been using blogs to communicate, and the government has instructed the nation's ISPs to ban those sites, which host thousands of Indian blogs.

Besides noting that a) the ban won't work, and b) it's a grotesque violation of freedom of speech, I don't really have anything brilliant to add to what others have said here, here, here, or here.

By all indications it's a Department of Communication order, though Shivam Vij failed in his quest to track down anyone in the government who would actually take responsibility for imposing the ban.

Let's hope the groans of several thousand pissed desi bloggers will be enough to get the government to swiftly change its strategy. They could easily contact Blogger (Google) and Typepad to get specific sites and IP addresses blocked; they could also be using information gained from tracking people who may be using these sites to make more arrests of actual terrorists.


Shreeharsh said...

Grotesque violation of free speech? It's more laughable than grotesque, I think.

But that's how we react to things in India, and knee-jerk is not adequate enough a word to describe it. A tsunami strikes our shores? We bring regulations restricting construction near the coast (rather looking at improved systems that can warn people). Bombings in Mumbai? Then we want to install closed-circuit television on Western Railway suburban stations! Earthquakes? Then we try to make already-standing buildings earthquake-proof rather than (again) concentrating on warning-systems. And now this. And the worst thing is, all this is done only in the immediate aftermath and then everyone forgets!

Although I have to say that I don't think anyone is dumb enough to believe that terrorists or future bombers communicate through blogs. Is there an ulterior motive, you think? Although I can't think of any, at the moment.

Krish said...

This looks more like an initiative by a lower level secretary to ban blogs related to terrorists, turning into a widespread ban on blogspot due to the incompetency in the ranks of ISPs while carrying out the govt. order. From Shivam's and other people's efforts, it is clear that the govt. agencies had asked only certain second level domains of blogspot to be banned and the ISPs had banned higher level domain names either due to incompetency or other intentions. The usual secrecy in the bureaucratic handling seems to be adding fuel to the fire. In any case, the idea of banning it is stupid.

Manish said...

install closed-circuit television on Western Railway suburban stations! Earthquakes? Then we try to make already-standing buildings earthquake-proof...

I'm missing your point-- why are these bad remedies? They seem mighty sensible to me.

I don't think anyone is dumb enough to believe that terrorists or future bombers communicate through blogs

A-Q is known to communicate through Web sites. The issue isn't the medium, which is a legit concern, it's the overbroadness.

vk said...

Does anyone know if the ban on the blogger sites has been lifted? BTW, I agree with Amardeep that this is a somewhat silly and inefficient means of cutting off access to the internet by terrorists. I guess that organs of govt have yet to completely understand the internet medium.

raina said...

this happens when a government has no concrete solutions or answers.

Anonymous said...

There is a beautiful article in the main Canadian paper ( about Mumbai's futile police capital, capability and rampant corruption that will hinder their ability to apprehend those responsible. Ultimately, impromt justice and oppression will occur to ensure public safety.

On another note, in a country where impunity is still present from the 80s in Punjab, the losing of freedom of expression is sadly no laughing matter.

Shreeharsh said...


well, maybe i was a bit too harsh. though what i was ranting about wasn't as much the remedies themselves (though i think they are impractical and not thought-through) but the knee-jerk nature of the response itself and how transient that response actually is. instead of thinking clearly about a problem, we seem to go into this emergency mode of ad-hoc solutions and then forget all about it.

that said, i am skeptical if closed-circuit television systems can work in mumbai's crowded stations. for one thing, there are far too many people. and there is no turnstile at the entrance to the station (not that installing them is practical either), which means that people in the station aren't all commuters. a somewhat better alternative seems to me to have plainclothesmen "patrolling" the station premises -- that might help detect some suspicious activity.

and i'm sorry, i truly don't believe that terrorist plots are hatched and discussed on blogs. strikes me that if they were, they'd be really easy to foil.

and yes, i'll go easy on my ranting from now on.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a comedy of errors. The govt. issued a directive asking for some 15-20 odd blogs to be banned. The ISPs received this, found that all blogspot domains resolve to the same IP address, and that the only way to block one is to block all - and went ahead and blocked all. Infact, there _are_ quite a few ISPs which've blocked only the specific blogs (the govt. run NIC being one of them).

I think it's stupid to jump to conclusions and say that this portends the end of freedom of speech. Always attributing malicious intent to the govt. doesn't help - this is at worst incompetence on the part of the ISPs and a communication gap b/w them and DoT).

Besides, active hate campaigns are being run today over blogs and SMS which support violence against whole communities. It would infact be irresponsible on that govt's part to sit back and let that blow up.

Mariam said...

There is more to the ban. Apparently some groups using it to further their cause.

Rathod said...

The reality ! Why is Your blog blocked ?

Devi said...

Why is MY blog banned ?

Krish said...

Read the following article. This proves my point earlier and the point of the anonymous poster above.

CuriousMoron said...

I would be extremely happy if the Indian authorities dont jail people for uttering the word 'blog' from now on! I uttered it :(.

Anonymous said...

Hi All,

I am also totally confused by the decision of DoT. There are so many questions are arising in my minds.
What is the intention of Indian government behind the decision of blocking blog websites? Do they really want to serve the nation's security or want to make little diversion to reach these websites by using proxy sites like

But question is “What does Govt. exactly want?”

If our government wants to serving motherland by cutting off the way of communication of extremist groups, then how we can still accessing all those banned websites? If govt. is thinking that they have done a great job, it’s wrong. Fact is that, they are technically failed. Anti-social elements are still communicating through the same websites which are banned. If the banned bloggers want to reach Indians, they can easily come through another domain.

And if they really want to serve our motherland then why have they left behind the map of back door and if they want to divert our path then why are they raving about national security?

It seems like an emotional decision. May be the decision taker would be emotional on the round table and failed technically. I would like to give a solid idea to cut off the communicating & even entering way to terrorist, just shut down entire internet services, telecommunication services, and transportation services.

And if we see the other intention of divert our path to reach that websites, then why? Why our government is trying to give a back door entry.

Finally government is failed in both of their intentions. Then what should we people (Aam Janta) understand? We want to be disillusioned? Help us.

Click here to express your views >>>

Vikram R K Nandwani said...

Hey - I have done a cartoon on the blog ban. It is ironic the way our govt. responds to terror attacks. You can view the cartoon on

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