Thursday, July 20, 2006

India Blog Ban NOT Over

Though some have been reporting that the ban on blogs that print naughty things about Islamist terrorists has been lifted, in fact, the Indian government is threatening to punish ISPs for making the ban too broad. The ban was supposed to apply to 18 blogs identified as being disrespectful to Islam (i.e., blogs that oppose Islamist terrorism, like The Jawa Report). As initially enacted by the ISPs, the ban included all blogspot and typepad blogs, because some of the banned blogs used those services.

The latest from the Indian Department of Telecom (DoT) is a threat to punish ISPs for banning more than the eighteen blogs on the list. There is nothing indicating that they have come to their senses and realized that the ban itself is anti-democratic and moreover, actually boosts traffic to the blogs banned.

From an Indian Department of Telecom press release (emphasis added):
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 should offer an explanation to the free world as to why India should not be considered a backward and repressive oligarchy, since the DoT has decided to restrict Indian citizens' freedom of speech and expression.

Cross-posted at The Jawa Report.