Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Indian Government Lifts Ban on Blogs 135

Posted by Zonk
from the i-have-a-soapbox-and-i-must-speak dept.
iDope writes "The Department of Telecommunications of the Government of India has lifted the ban on blogs (reported previously on Slashdot) following pressure from the Indian blogger community and the media. Even with the lifting of the ban several bloggers from BloggersCollective are getting ready to file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) (similar to a Class Action Lawsuit in US) in the Supreme Court of India against the Government censorship of the Internet."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Indian Government Lifts Ban on Blogs

Comments Filter:
  • by Tackhead (54550) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @02:23PM (#15751481)
    "In bureaucratic India, overlords who are first at posting are pleased to be welcoming you!"
    - Steve.

    (Yes I am really being named Steve, and the weather here in Bango...r, Maine is wonderful! We in America are overjoyed to be reading this and posting about it on your Slashdot!)

    • lifted the ban on blogs (reported previously on Slashdot) following pressure from the Indian blogger community

      If the blogs were illegal, why is the Govt. caving in to such criminal 'blogger' community. This is pandering to the criminals. What next, Pakistan O.K.ing manufacture of C4 by terrorists?

      India is on a slippery slope here; today they allow bloggers, tomorrow they got homosexuals burning Indian flags at their weddings to celebrate partial birth evolution.

  • Good news, I guess (Score:3, Informative)

    by ChaosCube (862389) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @02:25PM (#15751494) Homepage
    Even though I don't live in India, this is good. I'm all for people saying whatever the hell they want, regardless of any governmental restrictions or intrusions. Now, if only we could get the government off our backs here in the states...
  • Great ... now ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Guanine (883175) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @02:25PM (#15751500)
    How about China, with one fifth of the world's population, learns from this and stops censoring their internet, allowing Chinese citizens to fully participate in the online world community?
    • I doubt it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Silent sound (960334) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @02:39PM (#15751600)
      What we are seeing here is the difference between a democratic government like India (which has things like elected officals eventually accountable to their constituents and thus amenable to influence by public pressure; and an independent judiciary with the power to check the elected officials if they violate the citizenry's fundamental rights), and a state like China.

      Democracies can be imperfect; democracies like India can make mistakes, or do things (like this Blog censorship program) which are wrong. But at least in a democracy, there is some kind of mechanism in place that can be used to eventually fix the mistakes and correct the wrongs. China has no mechanisms in place to correct the wrongs of those in power. And so you can wait, but the wrongs are not going to just go away.
      • Yeah but in order for democracies to function properly you've got to have a population that pays attention to what's going on and who holds their elected officials accountable when then screw up. Then you get a situation like America where the upper 1% pretty much do whatever the fuck they want because the majority of the citizens don't seem to give a rats ass. Bread and circuses and all that.
      • Democracies can be imperfect [...]

              Gasp! You need to go talk to Papa-Bear O'Reilly *right now*!
      • Re:I doubt it (Score:3, Interesting)

        by tinker_taylor (618697)
        It has been interesting (to say the least), observing the current Indian Government. A ragtag coalition of opposing political groups, their common underlying theme is "Socialism". Their major coalition partner is the Communist Party of India (Marxist) which has influenced important policy decisions by the govt.

        The Government back-pedalled on the Blogging ban because they were afraid of getting their heads slapped around by the Supreme Court. This Government is the first in recent times (past 20 years) that
      • If this is not bias, what is bias? Because India is labled as "democracy", everything India did has its own reason, even it is wrong. Because China is labeld as "communist", everything China did is evil, even it has its own backgound. Of course, both censoring blog and building so-called "great internet wall" are bad, but please be a little bit fair and objective. Democracy is not the only judgement, and it is just a social system as others. It has its merits and limits, so do other systems. Don't forget th
    • How about China, with one fifth of the world's population, learns from this and stops censoring their internet, allowing Chinese citizens to fully participate in the online world community?


      Unfortunately I think the only thing that they might learn from this is that you must rule with an ironfist and keep people from organizing in protest.
  • by Burlap (615181) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @02:34PM (#15751551)
    I really hope /. keeps up on the coverage of this story if it goes to court. It would be quite entertaining to see a govt get it's hat handed to them for strongarming their population.
  • ...against the US Mainstream Media?
  • Finally! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Andrewkov (140579) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @02:35PM (#15751567)
    Good news! Now we can outsource Blogging to India!
  • Official Circular (Score:5, Informative)

    by iDope (916846) * on Thursday July 20, 2006 @02:39PM (#15751596)
    Here's the official notice by the Department of Telecom to ISPs to remove the block (http://pib.nic.in/release/release.asp?relid=18954 [pib.nic.in]):
    July 20, 2006 The Department of Telecom (DoT) has instructed all the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the country to block only the specified website/webpages on the parent website. The DoT, in its letter issued to all the ISPs has mentioned that it had come to notice that in some cases the parent website had been blocked in contravention to what was stated in its earlier order dated 13th July 2006 whereby it ordered the ISPs to block certain websites/webpages. As such the DoT has now directed all the ISPs to strictly comply with the order dated 13th July 2006 and provide unhindered access to Internet except for the websites/webpages which have been specifically mentioned in its orders issued from time to time. The DoT has further sought explanation from the erring ISPs as to why action be not taken against them for blocking unintended websites/webpages.
    • The DoT, in its letter issued to all the ISPs has mentioned that it had come to notice that in some cases the parent website had been blocked in contravention to what was stated in its earlier order dated 13th July 2006 whereby it ordered the ISPs to block certain websites/webpages

      Is it so difficult for ISP's to filter only some particular blogs in Blogspot & not all blogs on Blogspot ?? Isnt there a technological solution ? or Is it that they didnt want to do it?

  • All the ISPs had the same technical error? How about a technicality error, by the Indian govt, giving incorrect information out?
  • to ban movies:

    "India's ruling party takes legal steps to stop a film director from making a movie about Sonia Gandhi." BBC story [bbc.co.uk]
    • by iDope (916846) *
      All things cannot be set right at the same time. Any progress is good.
    • Ah, yes. A post about censorship in India under an article about censorship in India. Clearly offtopic.

      I don't usually complain about moderation, especially that of my own posts, but WTF?
      If you feel you must protect your county no matter what it does, why not reply and explain to me how culturally insensitive I am in thinking that censorship sucks.

      If, however, the moderator was on crack or just wasted, please accept my apology and enjoy your experience.
  • If those poor Indian citizens couldn't get their daily supply of Livejournal emo teenagers, I don't know *what* they would have done. Peaceful protests or some-such - oh, wait, they did.
  • by MikeRT (947531)
    They walk the good talk about public safety, terrorism, etc., but it's always just a ruse to get their foot in the door of censorship. Blocking a blog won't stop the terrorists behind it. Racist speech is only dangerous when it gets the mystique that comes only from being banned by hand-wringing bureaucrats who are open about fearing it.

    Repeat after me, censorship is always bad except in the most extreme cases like publishing a how-to FAQ on building a portable nuclear bomb or up-to-date troop movements. Wh
    • by bombom (168256)
      Did you even RTFA? The Govt. asked ISPs to block 17 blogs (not entire blog networks) and even those blogs were not "terrorist" blogs but rather sites inciting reprisals against India's muslim minority for the Bombay bomb blasts last week.

      As for "censorship is always bad except ....", except when you think its justified? Paging Dr. Hypocrite.

    • Repeat after me, censorship is always bad except in the most extreme cases like publishing a how-to FAQ on building a portable nuclear bomb or up-to-date troop movements...

      ...or publishing a site urging the murder of other groups of people? or of individuals, with their names and addresses?

      You can draw the line in many places, but it is too simplistic to just say "censorship is always bad" (although it is amusing that you write that and then start on a list of exceptions).

  • by blueZhift (652272) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @02:57PM (#15751743) Homepage Journal
    This is certainly good news for the Indians, but I wonder if this will be good for business too. Right now I would guess that China and India are pretty fierce competitors for offshored business from the West. China holds the edge right now in manufacturing, while IT related work seems to be India's forte (I reserve the right to be completely wrong about this). I don't really see manufacturing moving to India any time soon, but I think there is some pressure for more IT to go to China where the workers are increasingly cheaper than those in India as Indian wages increase due to high demand.

    But I would guess that the less than free and open society in China coupled with China being looked upon, by the U.S. at least, as a dangerous competitor on the world stage, is putting a brake on IT work freely flowing into China. Seriously, China and the U.S. could be at war tomorrow if Taiwan declared independence. India can play this to their advantage by doing as much as possible to resemble the free and open society that Americans claim to love so much. India is, afterall, the world's largest democracy, so playing the freedom angle isn't too much of a stretch with the right marketing.

    I'm not saying that there is any concious orchestration going on. But stories like censoring the internet don't help the image the government probably wants to project, so reversing that can only be to their advantage.
    • Has the thought occured to you, that India is a democratic country, because, the Indians want it that way, regardless of what China or USA govt. think.

      India gained its freedom from the british in 1947, when neither USA or China, were the world powers that they are today, and it has been a democratic nation since then.

      • India gained its freedom from the british in 1947, when neither USA or China, were the world powers that they are today

        You mean the same 1947 in which the USA was the ONLY nation in the world with a nuclear weapon, and the only major nation not to have lost a significant part of its population and industrial power to war? (Pearl Harbor didn't exactly contribute much in the way of industrial production) I'll give you China, but the US has been a bona fide world power since shortly after we joined WWII.

    • Might make sense if, say, Hollywood (or any content-producing industry) is outsourcing stuff to India. That is not what's happening; as my colleague from Burma will tell you, IT outsourcing doesn't quite "need" a free and open society, a closed totalitarian community of trained droids will do just fine.

      In short, India's tryst with freedom (to echo Nehru's words) isn't to grab that one extra consulting project; it is, let's face it, the only way so many ethnicities can share a common space and prosper.

  • The indian government took a wrong step there, it's good they reversed the decision.

    We're all having to learn how the internet works. Governments, great lumbering beasts that they are, are prone to dumb decisions when it comes to new technology, at least at first.

    I wonder what unseen pressure group was responsible for that. Google's blogspot was blocked. Hmm, I do wonder what microsoft were whispering in the ear of indian politicians before the decision.
  • can snakes even manufacture boots? I mean, the whole insult is just kind of silly. Snakes can BECOME boots, but there is no way they can hand-make boots.
  • Did anyone RTFA ? (Score:5, Informative)

    by genmax (990012) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @03:08PM (#15751817)
    So, the article says that ..

    a) The govt. had infact NOT asked for all blogs to be banned. It was just ISPs being clueluess. Repeat after me .. the blanket ban on blogspot and typepad was in ERROR ... the ISPs' mistake .. not the big bad govt's.

    b) The govt. had infact asked for 20 odd blogs and sites to be blocked - these were allegedly trying to incite hatred against certain minority communities, by blaming them for the recent bomb blasts in Mumbai. It was felt that such hate campaigns may lead to a violent reprisal against these communities.

    c) While banning said sites may also be an attack of freedom of speech (though I think this is similar to the ban on Nazi propoganda in Germany). it is NOT in the same league as that in China and North Korea.

    d) This (and by this, I mean blocking the original 20 sites, not the whole of blogspot, etc) is ALSO different from the US govt's reaction after 9/11. There was no attempt to use temporary public anger to justify aggression, infact quite the opposite - the govt. has tried to defuse such tensions and ensure sanity prevails.
    • Re:Did anyone RTFA ? (Score:2, Informative)

      by appavi (679094)
      Absolutely true. Indian govt banned only 17 websites. But the ISPs blocked the websites that are not in the list. Indian newspaper Hindu has posted the copy of govt order [hinduonnet.com] that is sent to ISP for blocking the websites.
    • I am NOT a network engineer. So how exactly are the isps
      going to block http://blogspot.com/badguy [blogspot.com] with out blocking all
      of blogspot.com?
      • The same way that some ISPs (including NIC dial-up - which is what most civil servants and MPs use) are doing it. They route all port 80 traffic to a proxy of sorts, analyze the Host: header and the URL, and block out the offending site.

        Difficult, but not impossible. Since the civil servants who issued said orders knew that their own ISP was capable of blocking out particular subdomains/urls even on multihomed IPs, they assumed every ISP could do the same. The "withdrawal" came after they realized that most
    • > The govt. had infact NOT asked for all blogs to be banned. It was just ISPs being clueluess.

      I don't know whether the ISPs were clueless, but they certainly revealed the rot in what the Indians like to call democracy.

      What the government asked for is worse, it was a slap in the face for freedom of speech. There was NO due process. It was a "silent" order given to the ISPs by some anonymous bureaucrats asking for _specific URLs_ to be blocked, regardless of legal merit (look at princesskimberly.blogspot.c
      • But what due process did they use in choosing what sites to block?
        Many of the good folk at the BloggersCollective have filed Right to Information requests; we should copies of the exact files in thirty days' time. Suffice it to say, though, that the IT Act, 2000, allows for just this; there is no due process when it comes to blocking websites. The PIL, presumably, exists to get this clarified in the Supreme Court.
        • I shouldn't have used the word "_due_ process", it's enough to ask what _process_ did they use in choosing what sites to block. The IT Act (like many other Indian laws) gives overbroad powers to unelected bureaucrats, the implied condition is that they'll be used sparingly (a model probably inspired by British law, which also does the same).

          What we see here is nothing less than blocking sites some random bureaucrat didn't like. To use a legal phrase, there is no bright-line definition for what cannot be ban
          • The IT Act (like many other Indian laws)

            No, that's my point. If you look at the censorship regimes, if you will, for other media, things are much more clear-cut; movies have the Censor Board (and its subsequent process of appeal), books can't be censored per se, but can be banned for security reasons. Overall, when a movie or a book is restricted in some way, we Indians get to know. With websites, we simply don't know. Therefore, in my book, the IT Act is much more draconian than earlier laws.

            While I'm

  • The Government will let you post on your blog until they see fit to add it to their blacklist.

    So while you will still be able to pick up your buddies favorite curry recipe, anything really interesting or political will go back to being blacklisted.

    Awesome.

    • You know, I did mod some people, but I'm gonna dump that just so I can say this one word to you.

      NO.

      Okay, I lied, there are more words. This was a big fubar on the ISP's part, *NOT* the government. Didn't you RTFA? (I actually decided to, for once.)
  • by Vellmont (569020) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @03:11PM (#15751848)
    In a previously highly rated post [slashdot.org] a reader claimed that democracy doesn't guarantee freedom. From a strict standpoint, he's absolutely right. But democracy makes freedom MUCH easier to attain since in general people want freedom and not opression. I think this reversal of the policy nicely illustrates that. As several others have pointed out, contrast this with a country like China where there's no democracy, and the government keeps a tight grip on its citizens. It's like the addage that money doesn't buy happiness, but the corollary is that it makes it whole lot easier.
  • Legitimate Ban (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 20, 2006 @03:22PM (#15751907)
    Either people aren't reading the article or are completely oblivious to recent events.

    Trains in Mumbai (Bombay) were recently bombed in what many people suspect was an act of Islamist terrorism to further the separation/Islamistization of Kashmir.

    The blogs in question were inciting violence against India's muslim population in response to the train attacks. The blocking of these blogs were done to prevent the incitement of retalliatory attacks and to prevent the issue from escalating into an unmanageble situation like what is currently happening in Israel/Lebanon. I for one think this is the only legitimate use of censorship and applaud the Indian government for its foresight and action.

    Many people fail to realize that India is not only the world's largest democracy and for the most part has a responsible government. Unfortunately, India too often gets lumped in with the Islamist extremests to the west (of India) or the Communist despots to the east (of India).
    • Re:Legitimate Ban (Score:2, Insightful)

      by iDope (916846) *
      Are you Indian? If so, I guess you are trying to be patriotic by defending your government. I you are really patriotic, don't trust your government blindly.

      The blogs in question were inciting violence against India's muslim population in response to the train attacks.

      Do you know that for a fact? Why didn't government inform about thiTill now the government has not even given an explanation on why each of the sites were banned. Couldn't have said it better than this guy (read carefully why this is

      • it interferes with our fundamental rights.

        India, like many European countries and unlike the US, has no absolute right to free speech; even according to the Article 14 (which defines the Fundamental Right to free speech), there are many conditions under which the right to exercise speech may be abrogated. In an ideological sense, you could say that the Indian Constitution is actually libertarian in spirit, but liberal in character; so within the parameters of Indian legal tradition, it is very much the G

    • Unfortunately, India too often gets lumped in with the Islamist extremests to the west (of India) or the Communist despots to the east (of India).

      Who are the dorks who modded such utterances insightful???

      North western border of India has Pakistan which is not "Islamist extremests" (is Germany only "neo-nazis"?).

      West Bengal [wikipedia.org] which is to the east of India and the southern state of Kerala has communist parties in power. Both the states are topping in literacy, education, and other welfare related indic
    • The blogs in question were inciting violence against India's muslim population in response to the train attacks.

      No. They. Weren't.

      This is simply, completely, utterly untrue.
  • Even though Govt of India ordered to restore acess to blogspot, The 18 sites [wikia.com] that Govt decided to ban is still banned. But for most of those sites & blogs I cant findout reason to block. Still ministry is silent on it. It again the duty of bloggers community to file Right to information Application to know why this ban. The news came on Indian Express [indianexpress.com] Newspaper addresses this issue in some amount. Are Bloggers are happy after removing the threat to their own blogs? If they can block a blog like http://p [blogspot.com]
    • I think u raised a valid point. But As you may noticed sites like hinduunity.org etc are very much hate spreading. The most interestiung thing for me is there are reports, aboutt govt banned these sites to defent Islamist terrorists. But In the list you mensioned I cant find any single site that contains islamist messages. If terrorists need a communication They will not use blogs & websites. There are enough mechanisms to communicate for them here
    • I am guessing they would lift the ban after a few days or so when things "settle down". It like the US government asking NYTimes to wait for a year before letting them publish something...
  • by nileshbansal (665019) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @03:40PM (#15752033) Homepage

    Govt of India never banned all blogs. After terrorist attack in Mumbai, 22 sites were ordered to be blocked to prevent communal hatred and riots. The order was misinterpreted [hindustantimes.com] by ISPs who blocked blogspot.com (this was just a mistake).

    I am against all kind of govt censoring (including this). But this ban should not be compared to one in China. The two are fundamentally different as India is a democracy and Indian Constitution provides freedom of expression. But this ban was not unconstitutional as freedom of expression does not allow one to spread opinions of hatred.

  • Hurray!!
  • Great. Now how about the ban on exporting dahl?
    • Yes, the dal issue is more important and more stupid that the ban on blogs. If the dal price goes through the roof what will all the Non Resident Indians do? Where will the vegetarians get their protein?

      Where is the outrage over that?
  • PIL is nothing like Class Action. Class Action is mostly for lawyers to make a lot of money while PIL is for the public good, where lawyers and the plaintiff do it because they care.

"If I do not want others to quote me, I do not speak." -- Phil Wayne

Working...