India's Department of Telecommunications (DoT) passed an order to ISPs Friday to block several websites. The list is confidential. Indian ISPs have been slowly coming into compliance. SpectraNet, MTNL, Reliance, and as of Monday afternoon, Airtel. State-backed BSNL and VSNL have not started yet but likely will soon. The known list of blocked domains is *.blogspot.com, *.typepad.com and geocities.com/*.Link to Shivam's post, and Jace is following developments on his blog, here.
Yes folks, the Indian government has decided to censor blogs and refused to explain why. This morning Shivam Vij managed to talk to Dr Gulshan Rai, director of CERT-IN, the only body authorised to issue directives to ISPs. His response: "Somebody must have asked for some sites to be blocked. What is your problem?"
If any Boing Boing readers in India find several sites inaccessible today, please call your ISP and demand to know why. If you can help, please join the coordinating group: Link.
The block is still spreading through Indian ISPs. This recalls Pakistan's Blogspot ban during the Danish cartoon controversy and India's Yahoo Groups ban in '03 to shut down a separatist forum.Dina Mehta says,
The plot gets thicker and thicker as more bloggers are getting alerted to the fact that an increasing number of Indian ISP's are banning blogspot and typepad blogs and geocities.com. Several detailed posts on this, with regular updates here: withinandwithout.com, Conversations with Dina, and Travel Tales from India.Amit Varma says,
There's a wiki here: Link. We're treading with a little caution before we go whole-hog at the government. There is a possibility that it is a mistake - where a directive from the government on a few blogs might have been misrepresented by ISP's here - who have blocked the entire sites.
Amit Agarwal has some tips on how Indian bloggers can circumvent the ban on Blogspot here: Link. More here: Link.Update, 11AM PT: Shii says,
An Indian political blog is reporting that the ban was initiated by the Indian intelligence service to stop terrorism: Link. According totheir source, the terrorists are using blogs to communicate. Not only is this useless (because the terrorists can simply use proxies), it's akin to shutting off the country's telephone service because terrorists talk to each other through phones.Jim says,
Indian Censorship can easily be bypassed when using TorPark. It's a no-install version of Firefox that uses the Tor Network for communication. This should also work in China and other countries that filter the web.And of course, this and many other censorship workarounds at BoingBoing's "How to Defeat Censorware."
I am not yet facing any of the blocking effects as reported by several Indian bloggers. I have noticed a certain pattern here. The blocking seems to be affecting city users while rural netizens have been spared of this curb for now. I have mentioned this in detail here.