Indian Government Threatens To Fine ISPs That Blocked Blogs… On Their Order

from the confusion-abounds dept

One of the big stories this week that we haven’t written anything about is the “blog blockade” in India. One of the reasons we haven’t touched it is because there was so little information about what was actually going on. The story eventually settled on the fact that the government had asked ISPs to block certain sites as a “precautionary measure” in dealing with terrorist attacks. However, there was some confusion over whether or not the order was just to block a few blogs or the entire sites (which is what happened). However, there’s now a twist. As the story has gained more prominence and more outrage, the Indian government has responded oddly. Not only are they claiming they didn’t order the full blockade (just of a few subdomains), they’re now asking the ISPs to explain why the government should not take action against the ISPs for blocking the full sites. In other words, they made an order that the ISPs clearly did not understand — and now they’re going to blame and punish the ISPs for misunderstanding their orders. That would be a lot more credible if so many ISPs hadn’t banned the full sites. With so many ISPs all interpreting the ban the same way, it certainly seems odd for the government to suddenly be angry about it. It sounds like they’re just trying to make an excuse now that they realize how angry everyone is.

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Comments on “Indian Government Threatens To Fine ISPs That Blocked Blogs… On Their Order”

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alok says:

news and views

and from where exactly did u get this information that indian government has issued any such notices?

as far as blocking the sites goes, i think one must understand that some decisions might seem odd in retrospection, but when you are counting bodies, it is better to be on the safer side. india was, and still is one of the countries where people enjoy much freedom to voice their opinions.

MikeT (user link) says:

Sort of makes sense

One would think that the ISPs would have legal counsel contact them ask them what it means if there was such ambiguity. Hopefully, if the Indian federal government ordered something that really would sound like a blanket ban, it’ll get knocked for a loop in India’s legal system. However, this sounds more like a CYA on the part of the ISPs right now.

Anonymous Coward says:

What could have happened

Phase 1: Gov’t orders ISPs to setup IP based banning of sites.

Phase 2: much time goes by

Phase 3: Gov’t orders ban of sub.domain.tld, ISP looks up IP addy of sub.domain.tld and blocks the IP addy

Phase 4: Gov’t gets upset cause ALSO hosts PoliticalActivistsBlog.domain.tld

Phase 5: Political Activist finds out the Gov’t jsut silinced his site, along with every other activist he knows. They have a fight, triangle wins. Phone calls are made.

Phase 6: You read this useful column and its useless post on TechDirt

None of this is uncommon and it seems to happen all the time, so don’t anyone dare try and tell me its “unlikely”.

fromIndia says:

This is what happend

List of the sites that Indian government asked ISPs to block:

Overzealous ISPs did block more than what was required. If you see the list, instead of blocking the sub-domains, they blocked entire domains. May be they were under the pressure and could not quite figure out how to block just the sub-domains or may be they thought what the heck, let’s block all – people will be safer that way 🙂

I am an Indian and I have never seen such an outcry from the Indian people about blocking the websites. Few years back, VSNL (Indian Internet gateway) blocked all the voice traffic as they controlled the phones (evil telco) in India.

Nothing is going to happen – trust me. The government asking ISPs why they should not be punished is similar to a “show cause notice”. It is a legal terminology in India used to ask for clarification before filing any charges. The ISPs will apologize and that’s it.

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