Indian Government Orders 32 Web Sites Blocked, Including GitHub, Archive.Org, Pastebin, DailyMotion And Vimeo

from the blunt-instrument dept

According to a developing story in the Times of India, some users in India are unable to access major international Web sites, including GitHub, Pastebin and DailyMotion:

It now appears that the blocks are being carried out on the instructions of [India’s] DoT (Department of Telecom). The telecom body reportedly issued a notification regarding the same on December 17. A screenshot of the circular has been posted on Twitter by Pranesh Prakash. The notification mentions that 32 URLs including Pastebin, video sharing sites Vimeo and DailyMotion, Internet archive site and a web-based software code repository), have been blocked under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000. DoT has also asked ISPs to submit compliance reports. However, we have not been able to verify the authenticity of the circular.

Here’s the list posted by Pranesh Prakash:

It’s not clear why these sites have been blocked in this way, but Prakash, who is Policy Director at the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore, India, believes it may be because of a court order in a copyright case. He also points out that this is not the first time this has happened. However, the key nature of many of the sites affected, and the fact that entire sites, rather than just some of their pages, were blocked, is bound to lead to calls for this blunt instrument to be refined before it is used again.

Update: The Economic Times of India provides more information about what is happening here (via Arijit Banik):

The websites were blocked for hosting content that is pro terrorist group ISIS and not cooperating with government investigations, officials said.

Arvind Gupta, the head of IT Cell, BJP Tweeted: “The websites that have been blocked were based on an advisory by Anti Terrorism Squad, and were carrying Anti India content from ISIS. The sites that have removed objectionable content and/or cooperated with the on going investigations, are being unblocked.”

Even so, taking down entire Web sites — especially major ones like GitHub and — is clearly a completely disproportionate response, and shows the dangers of using this very crude approach.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or, and +glynmoody on Google+

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Comments on “Indian Government Orders 32 Web Sites Blocked, Including GitHub, Archive.Org, Pastebin, DailyMotion And Vimeo”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

So about that...

It’s not clear why these sites have been blocked in this way, but Prakash, who is Policy Director at the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore, India, believes it’s because of a court order in a copyright case.

So hey, anyone remember when certain individuals in the US were clamoring for, and demanding, the ability to have sites shut down and/or blocked, based upon claims of piracy, without any sort of adversarial trial to prove guilt or innocence?

Remember when they insisted that such an ability would never end up affecting innocent sites, but only ever affect the worst of the worst, and anyone who expressed concerns contrary to those claims were told that their worries were completely blown out of proportion, and nothing but fearmongering in order to defend piracy?

So with an example like this, about those ‘out of proportion, nothing but fearmongering’ concerns…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: So about that...

and the day before that and the day before that and….

Welp you get the idea.

the Slippery slope is so damn slippery people keep forgetting how slippery it is!!!

Nope… they actually KNOW how slippery it is and just keep pushing us onto it! They know exactly what is going on, and a lot of people believe their feigned ignorance.

PaulT (profile) says:

What’s interesting here is that most of the sites being blocked appear to be sites used by developers and tech support, even going as far as to block phorkie (an open source project that allows people to set up their own equivalent of pastebin).

In other words, don’t worry about all those developers and tech support people who depend on these services to easily share code and logs with their colleagues and customers. Someone, somewhere decided their copyright was more important than your particular business and will stop you using legitimate tools for legitimate purposes. Because someone, somewhere might be losing money and their money is worth more than yours.

Besides the usual free speech arguments, this is literally one set of companies ordering the tools used by another set of companies to be blocked because they’re scared that some 3rd party is misusing them. You have to be a special kind of stupid not to see what a massive problem this is…

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Not stupid, just incredibly self-centered and holding the belief that no-one’s profits or livelihood matter more than yours.

So what if a number of other companies suddenly find themselves in deep trouble without access to the tools they need to do their jobs properly, you might be losing money somewhere, and there is no cost too high, nor collateral damage ‘too much’, in the effort required to stem those theoretical ‘lost profits.’

art guerrilla (profile) says:

gee, i'm sure that won't have any unintended consequences...

…like all the software companies who hire indian tech support and programmers, but since they no longer have access to the websites and tools they need to do their work, they can’t do their work, so… ?

…and ? ? ? THE BEST site on the innertubes ? ? ? sure, hobble yourselves voluntarily, india…

act in haste, repent at leisure…

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: gee, i'm sure that won't have any unintended consequences...

“all the software companies who hire indian tech support and programmers, but since they no longer have access to the websites and tools they need to do their work”

That’s the silver lining here. Just looking at the enterprise section of Github, there’s some major American companies who use the site. There’s thousands of smaller startups and other companies, of course, not to mention homegrown Indian developers who are losing out. But, the fact that some major international players stand to lose money due to the block should mean that it’s lifted fairly quickly.

“…and ? ? ? THE BEST site on the innertubes ? ? ?”

The site had demonstrably been used to host at least one infringing file. Since that means the site is now used for piracy, and it is not used by an **AA member, it should be blocked.

Sadly, that’s literally the way they think.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

One problem with SOPA would have been that people along the Canadian or Mexican borders would have been able to get wireless Internet from accross the border and not be affected.

I know this because I have heard of people in, say, Montana, getting wireless Internet from Canada, becuase it is all they can get.

A Canadian ISP is not subject to American laws, even if they have wireless customers on the US side of the border.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

How are they going to make an Internet service provider, either dial-up or wireless, follow American law.

This also would have made the CDA impossible to enforce on rich people, if it had been upheld. Someone who could afford the cost of an international phone call could have simply dialed up to an offshore dial-up ISP and signed on there.

There would have been no possible way to stop someone from picking up the phone and dialing a foreign phone number connected to a foreign computer.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

A wireless ISP operating from the Canadian side of the border is not subject to any American laws, even if American customers are connecting from the US side of the border

The same goes with Mexican cell phone providers. Cell providers operating om the Mexican side of the border are not subject to any American laws, even if they have people on the U.S. side of the border using their networks.

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Wait, “the Information Technology (Procedures and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by the Public) Rules”?

That’s about as clear and unambiguous a match for the definition of censorship (“an attempt to prevent some particular audience from being exposed to some particular information”) as I could ask for – and they put it right in the title of a formal government document.

At least they’re being honest and straightforward about it…

Anonymous Coward says:

Steps have just been taken....

…to provide means to evade these blocks. Since I am neither an Indian citizen nor within Indian jurisdiction I am under absolutely no obligation whatsoever to obey their profoundly idiotic directives, therefore I choose not to do so — and further, I choose to undermine them to the extent that my technical ability and access allow. It will no doubt take some time for these changes to propagate, but I trust in due course they will render these blocks moot.

I suggest that the Indian government’s time would be better spent dealing with the horrific, systemic problem of gang rape — a matter far more serious and pressing than kissing the asses of the copyright cartel.

Anonymous Coward says:

India just put a bullet in its own economy. One of the things India has had going for it recently is its up and coming tech personnel, either people learning and moving to other countries to work or jobs outsourced to India. Now that they’ve blacked out the ability to use some of the most often used resources for Programming and IT, their current and up-and-coming tech people are going to be at an extreme disadvantage.

MPAA and RIAA take notes of this as what not to do. If you want to make the US a tech backwater with an economy that has people at such a loss they can’t afford to buy your product, keep pushing for idiocy like this.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You greatly underestimate the greed and short-sightedness of the *AA’s. If they thought that tanking the internet entirely would get people back to buying their overpriced CD’s, and that they would survive the riots from such an action, they would see absolutely nothing wrong with such an action.

Much like ancient people believed that everything in the universe revolved around the Earth, they truly and honestly believe that everything is, or should, revolve around them and what they want.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

What about websites that sell cd’s/records/even tape cassettes (they stopped being made around 98/99 right?, I have a real album in cassette tape format from 97, cos I was a paperboy kid and it was cheaper) ? They profit from those. Oh, I see, they would like it if people didn’t sell used records/cd’s/cassettes? To hell with them then.

Anonymous Coward says:

That list looks nothing like a collection of likely targets of “copyright” concerns. It rather looks like some list of alternative out-of-band impromptu communication channels – people post stuff on pastebin-like sites to be able to link to them in their social or p2p posts (really, when did you last see the latest Bollywood hit crammed into pastebin?!?) and vimeo and github seem to be simply caught up at the edges of trying to prevent that. What the heck are they so afraid of, some sort of Arab Spring or what?!?

balaknair (profile) says:

Been checking the listed sites

from where I live in India, checked each url thrice from the three ISPs I use- cable broadband and 2 mobile connections, once at 7:30 pm IST, and again now at 12:30 am IST.
So far all of them seem to be accessible. Either the report is mistaken(a prank or troll) or perhaps my ISPs haven’t implemented the block yet.

That said, the list provided seems to have very little to do with copyright infringement. Except for dailymotion and vimeo, all the rest seem to be web development and software dev sites. And blocking makes very little sense.

Anonymous Coward says:

this ‘very crude appraoch’ is being used because it can be! governments everywhere are starting to follow the same course as was started by the UK. they use the same pathetic arguments of ‘protecting the children’ when they dont give a toss about the children because it is about the governments being able to control what can and cannot be accessed over the net. the main thing will come out when elections start but the banning of social websites is already being used to stop people informing others of a starting place for demonstrations etc. it is far more important to these governments to be able to stop dead any form of protest at what the governments are doing, even though those governments were voted in to office to follow the promises made during the election run up and refuse to leave office until ready! they all ignore that they are in office to do what is best and what is right for everyone, not just for themselves and not just for particular industries!

Lawrence D’Oliveiro says:

Supposedly A Democracy, Yet With This Weird Paternalistic Mentality...

I came across something similar a couple of years ago, with Google’s “Mapathon” being investigated by the Indian authorities over making available information which was already public anyway, yet somehow deemed “sensitive”.

See the responses to my comments (as “ldo17”) here and here.

Anonymous Coward says:

Nice. Indians will compile codes, share with each others through servers situated in foreign countries. Server company lures the Indians by showing they have provided free platform to share and indirectly collects all compiled codes and launch software product with their brand name to kill Indians resulting in IT job stagnation.

JJ says:

Access restored

Access is now restored to GitHub n Vimeo, dailymotion is still blocked.
This is stupid, even a monkey can figure out how to use a proxy.

Dailymotion Has a lot of Bollywood movies available so I’m guessing that this is purely anti-piracy action in progress.

They should set up a better system to monitor content instead of blocking entire websites.

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