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Bizarre: Indian Government Orders Censorship Of One Its Own Sites

from the something-wrong-here dept

Techdirt has been tracking for some time the worrying moves in India that have involved censoring the Twitter accounts of journalists and political groups, or blocking sites. But this bizarre story from the Times of India goes beyond these in a number of ways:

Ordered by a Gwalior district court, the government on Thursday asked internet service providers (ISPs) to a block 78 URLs or web addresses, of which 73 were linked to articles and blogs about the Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM) and its director, Arindam Chaudhuri.

As the Times of India report notes, the range of material blocked is disturbing, since it includes newspaper and magazine articles, as well as the following:

Remarkably, the list of 73 URLs includes a public notice of July 2012 issued by the University Grants Commission saying that “IIPM is not a university within the meaning of section 2(f) of the UGC Act, 1956”.

For the government to censor itself, is odd, to say the least. But what’s really worrying is the fact that Section 69 of India’s Information Technology Act seems to have been invoked here to stifle criticism:

“A poor law has given IIPM the ammunition to use state machinery to go after its critics. This was entirely expected given the way the law is drafted. The next step in this ladder would be booking people for blasphemy,” said Nitin Pai, founder of think tank Takshashila Institution, who has been tracking the developments around the IT Act.

It’s not really clear how a private actor was able to get this blunt instrument applied to so many sites — including news outlets and one run by the Indian government itself — but it certainly creates a dangerous precedent. It also shows how a censorship law that supposedly allows blocking “in the interest of the sovereignty or integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order” can be put to rather different uses.

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Comments on “Bizarre: Indian Government Orders Censorship Of One Its Own Sites”

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14 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

had the USA entertainment industries not started this ‘we want so and so site blocked’, then had it backed up by the thick fuckers, without questioning, from the USA law enforcement and government, then not spread it to other countries via the USTR under threat of sanctions for non compliance with what was wanted and only beneficial to the USA, maybe this wouldn’t be happening! for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. sooner or later or the crap that was started in the USA will come back to bite it in the arse, and it will be sorely deserved!!

Anonymous Coward says:

The Joy of Bureaucracy

Indian bureaucracy is a hell of inefficiency and corruption. In the worst cases, each office is run by a little potentate, and each bureaucrat doesn’t think he’s doing his job unless he makes you have to go and do or get some other approval or paperwork.

I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if there were actually a squabble between two people, and the website takedown was a completely intentional escalation in some kind of pissing match.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The Joy of Bureaucracy

“Indian bureaucracy is a hell of inefficiency and corruption. In the worst cases, each office is run by a little potentate, and each bureaucrat doesn’t think he’s doing his job unless he makes you have to go and do or get some other approval or paperwork.”

They have Republicans in India?

Anonymous Coward says:

“It’s not really clear how a private actor was able to get this blunt instrument applied to so many sites”

Being a private actor can be an advantage in times like this. Another “private actor” GIIS K12 Education Private LTD also has had a suite against Google in Delhi High Court asking Google to block three Google owned websites in two other countries and one in India. GIIS Education is another private school/college. Their action predates the IIPM case but moved much slower in Delhi High Court. The Gwalior Court has been extremely co-operative with IIPM. Delhi Courts are generally not so easy game.

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