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Blog blocking stalemate continues

Posted by rtiact2005 on July 21, 2006

Blog blocking stalemate continues
Pragya Singh
Posted online: Friday, July 21, 2006 at 0000 hrs Print Email

Cyberwar: DoT now puts blame on ISPs, asks for selective blocking

NEW DELHI, JULY 20:Three days into the unhappy skirmish with bloggers,
the government on Thursday double-barrelled its decision to gag 17
websites and blogs in India.

'Blogs will be back soon

On Thursday, the Department of Telecom (DoT) sent Internet Service
Providers (ISPs) yet another letter—this one ''ordering'' them to
selectively block only those websites that it had specified in the
July 13 ban order.

All other websites, DoT has told the Internet companies, must continue
to be accessed ''unhindered''. In a statement issued today, DoT has
said that by blocking more websites than the 17 in the hot seat, ISPs
are in ''contravention'' of its orders.

This is the first time that DoT is placing its cards on the table on
the July 13 ban, but its position is remains marred, since not all
ISPs seem to have the required technology to selectively block
webpages maintained on blogs.

But the government is not playing along with niceties. The official
statement issued today paraphrases the new order as saying: ''It has
come to notice that in some cases the parent website had been blocked
in contravention to what was stated in its earlier order.''

As if on cue, the ISP Association of India (ISPAI) has also said that
there is technology available to block websites and web pages
selectively, and that though not all ISPs may have it now, they can
acquire it soon.

On Thursday, one representative of a Delhi-based ISP confirmed that
the July 13 order did only mention a few blogspot.com pages and some
other websites. ''That's why ISPs cannot block blogspot.com
completely,'' he said. This is complicated, because the blocking of
pin-pointed 17 websites was not effective and most bloggers had railed
against the extensive nature this ban had taken on.

The Thursday order, however, has given some bloggers more teeth to
bite the official hand with. An informal coalition-in-the-making of
bloggers has now decided to address the government on the blog issue
by bringing up tricky legal questions.

''By next week we will approach the Supreme Court and sue the
government and ISPs on restricting everybody's access to the
Internet,'' says Sarbajit Roy, who plans to lead the bloggers. Roy
says he had previously, in 2004, sued all telecom companies in Delhi
over restricting calls.

The pivot of this legal action is ironically to be based on the
Information Technology Act, 2000. This Act defines ''hacking,'' in
Section 66, as gaining illegal access to any website, or preventing
access to a website through illegal means.

''If this is Section 66, isn't the government and the ISPs both in
contravention of the law by preventing thousands of bloggers from
getting online? Now, even the government says the ISPs had no right to
block access to blogspot.com except those sites mentioned in the July
13 order.'' says Roy.

Tired of bad publicity, the DoT has turned against ISPs in its July 20
order. It has asked ISPs ''Why action (should) be not taken against
them for blocking unintended websites/webpages.''


One Response to “Blog blocking stalemate continues”

  1. sanjeev kumar said

    RTI INFORMATION NOT RECD. App. sent 16 may 2011.

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