After much furor over the blanket ban on blogging sites like Blogspot, Typepad and Yahoo! Geocities by Internet service providers (ISPs), the Department of Telecom (DoT) has woken up to seek explanation from the erring ISPs as to “why action not be taken against them for blocking unintended websites / webpages”.
The DoT in an order on Thursday instructed all ISPs in the country to block only the specified websites / webpages on the parent website. The DoT, in its letter issued to all ISPs, has mentioned it had come to its notice that in some cases the parent website had been blocked in contravention to what was stated in its earlier order dated July 13, 2006, whereby it ordered the ISPs to block certain websites / webpages. As such, the DoT has now directed all ISPs to strictly comply with the order dated July 13, 2006 and provide unhindered access to the Internet, except for the websites / webpages that had been specifically mentioned in its orders issued from time to time.
Speaking before the government order was passed, CERT-IN’s Director, Gulshan Rai, said, “The Government had not ordered ban on any domain name like blogspot.com, it had ordered ban on only some sub-domain names. The Press actually blew it up. The blocked pages contained highly incriminating material that was bad for the society and Indian culture. It included blogs which were showing Hindu deities in undergarments, depicting the Koran in bad taste and demand for a Mughalistan. A composite society like India cannot permit it.”
When asked how effective such bans were at a time where people could still access such blogs through third party websites, Rai, while agreeing with this, said, “But that does not mean that one can simply sit down and watch it. One has to do whatever is possible. It is easy in case of websites to block them as the host of the site could be tracked down, but this is not possible in case of blogs as they are hosted by blogging sites and anybody can write anything anonymously.”
Explaining the difficulty, Rai said, “We can’t also force such blogging sites as every time we approach them they say because the servers are located in the US, it is regulated by the US laws, and not Indian laws. It is difficult to enforce Indian laws on foreign servers.”
But when asked whether he would admit that the Government should have acted more cautiously in this manner so that a blanket ban could have been avoided, Rai appeared rather unconcerned. “These types of technical errors happen. Even a country like South Korea has also banned Skype.”
When asked whether the Government was mulling any law to curb anonymous bloggers through changes in the IT Act in this regard, Rai refused to comment on it, saying he did not have any knowledge of it. He also refused to comment on whether the Mumbai serial bomb blasts had prompted the government to issue the order.