Right to Information – Master key to good governance

When bloggers attack: Netizens use RTI to fight online censorship

Posted by rtiact2005 on July 20, 2006

When bloggers attack: Netizens use RTI to fight online censorship

Following the blanket ban on blog domains blogspot.com, typepad.com and geocities.yahoo.com, the online community has decided to use the Right to Information (RTI) Act. A number of applications are already in the post, while others are being hurriedly drafted.

Mumbai-based web designer Nandan Babla posted his letter on Tuesday and has also put up a ‘Guide to filing RTI applications’ as a template on the Internet page Bloggers Against Censorship at censorship.wikia.com, a format many applicants have followed.

The Wikia page also offers a history of the issue, a list of banned sites and ISPs and quotes from bloggers. ‘‘The ban has been completely arbitrary. But under the RTI Act, the authorities will have to explain why they did it,’’ he says.

Sources at the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology confirm they have already begun receiving applications over e-mail addressed to BB Bahl, joint director and public information officer — about 12 have come in so far. The snail mail versions will predictably take longer. The letters are all being forwarded to Gulshan Rai, director, computer emergency response team.

Bloggers who belong to community organisations are getting involved as well. Gautam Bastian, editorial associate for the Centre for Civil Society in Delhi, is also appealing to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and writing to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on behalf of his employers.

‘‘We also hope to involve associations that have done prior work with the Act,’’ says Bastian.

Some bloggers, like Delhi-based lawyer Sanjukta Basu, are also trying to rally support around the idea of a writ petition under Article 226. ‘‘Some bloggers met in Delhi on Wednesday and we discussed the idea,’’ she says.

While officials in charge of cyber-security assert that Google should take the initiative to block sites that are offensive, Blogger, a division of Google, has this to say: ‘‘We are puzzled and disappointed by reports we have seen that users in India are not able to access Blogspot. We are currently looking into the situation.’’


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