Are we sitting ducks?

By Monday evening, most bloggers across India were beginning to get a sense of what had happened. Unable to read their blogs they began sending emails and instant messages to each other. Did anyone know what had happened?

When Neha Viswanathan emailed a google group I was a member of, most bloggers responded in disbelief. None was sure that such a ban on bloggers was even possible. Some were still able to read their blogs.
I called up airtel and came up with little news. I posted about it here. . By that time, it was evident that a ban was indeed in place. And the confusion gave away to anger. Was the Indian government, the second largest democracy in the world, responsible?
That night I made a frantic search on net for more news. And then I called up Airtel, my ISP, again. This time the answer sounded more rehearsed. The guy who came on the phone line had said it many times before. Airtlel had shutdown blogspot sites in compliance with a DoT order for security reasons. It seemed pointless to shout at the guy “what security” but that I what I did.
By the next morning, the story was on to the mainstream media. The ban was officially in place. It had been done in a clandestine fashion. No official announcement from the Ministry or TRAI or DoT was deemed necessary. Perhaps, the government thought the bloggers would go down quietly.
But the bloggers had other intentions. In no time at all, this wiki had come up. Voices of protests started pouring onto the Internet.

What was the government thinking? Nancy has a post here on an NDTV report which is contrary to everything we have heard so far. Was the ban on blogspot and typepad in response to the Mumbai blasts or was it as the NDTV report says to curb religious extremism.
Why did not the government think it decent to inform everyone that they were going to ban blogs for a while? Why did it have to sneak up on us? Why is it still refusing to own up to this ban? Because other countries like Pakistan and China have gotten away with it, did the Indian government think it could get away with it too?

Secondly is this legal? Does the government have the authority to implement this ban? It appears not. After all bloggers are only exercising their right to freedom of expression.

How long is the ban going to last? I expect it will be lifted or else the government better prepare for some heavy artillery from the online community.

Lastly, lots of people are putting up links which will take you to the blog you wanna read bypassing the ban. I am still wondering if I should do it too. I really dont want to enter my own house through the backdoor. I would feel like a thief.

New Times Story on the ban. Has an interesting account of a government official hanging up on the reporter.

The Google Group that has sprung up in wake of the ban.

The Business Standard story covering some legal aspect and how the IT Act is silent on the issue.

A comprehensive list of links and ways that will help you bypass the ban.

Neha Viswanathan writes on the ban at Global Voices.

6 Comments so far

  1. Chandler64 (unregistered) on July 19th, 2006 @ 5:05 am

    I thought you guys in Chennai are well connected
    with the Federal Stamp minister who is also the minister for IT and misCommunications. Isn’t he the nephew of the Chief minister of Tamil Nadu ?

    Talk to him in Tamil. May be he will listen


  2. anon (unregistered) on July 19th, 2006 @ 6:05 am

    New Times ? Is this a new chennai local newspaper like mylapore times ?


  3. Nancy (unregistered) on July 19th, 2006 @ 11:17 am

    While I oppose the ban, one point that strikes me is that, if you want to take terrorists by surprise, you do not announce your intention to ban in advance. Of course, now that everyone is shouting about it, they certainly owe it to the citizenry to explain themselves.


  4. Chandler64 (unregistered) on July 19th, 2006 @ 12:11 pm

    Imagine…

    Chennai’s own #1 blogger interviews
    Indian Federal Minister in misCommuications
    for ‘podcasting’ to be released in the
    upcoming ‘BanBlog Camp’to be held at the
    ‘drive-in’ joint opp. to US Consular office
    this coming sunday.

    His first question from a senior IT executive
    what makes you think this ‘BAN’ helps in
    fighting ‘terrorism’?

    The minister replies we have our sources..
    ‘we want to take action which catches
    terrorists by surprise. After all we
    don’t want to announce our intentions
    before our Party leadership had time
    to appear on CNN to answer accusations
    by ‘Responsible Citizens for Militant Blogging’.

    So, who is your source?
    Alright, alright, I will tell you. It is the
    same British intelligence source which revealed
    the accurate ‘Niger Yellow Cake’
    connection to Saddam which helped
    the loosly aligned non-rogue nations
    convince the confused UN to assist GOD
    fearing ‘white folks’ bring democracy to Iraq.

    The minister in parting says I don’t understand
    what is all this fuss about ? Let me share
    a secret, we didn’t block ‘Video blogging’
    sites. Now, go on turn your cell phone camera
    across the street and get some pictures of
    those Syrian Embassy gates…for your next
    Vblogging post.

    Kiruba beaming bicycles towards Kabool.


  5. Nandhu (unregistered) on July 19th, 2006 @ 11:29 pm

    sorry that was the NYT- New YORK Times. sorry again.
    Mr Maran is at present outside India, sources say.


  6. Nandhu (unregistered) on July 19th, 2006 @ 11:32 pm

    UP

    A friend who says he has the copy of the DoT order says that there is no ban mentioned against blogspot or typed except for a few specified sites. so why did the ISPs block all blogspots and typepad sites? that’s a mystery. i really cant believe Airtel is so stupid.



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