Monday, July 17, 2006

Indian Government Blocks Selected Blogs

While I was skeptical of the initial reports, it seems now that those reports are true. The MSM is still not covering it (except this report on Rediff) but from most of the bloggers in India it is evident that most if not all the ISPs are reacting to some list of suggested sites to be blocked issued by MoC / DoIT / CERT-IN (It's unclear as to who exactly issued such a list even though its clearly a task attributed to CERT-IN). After repeated attempts to contact the top CERT-IN official, Shivam Vij was able to only get a "non-response". At this time, its unclear if the government issued such a list. I'd think it'd be easier to maintain a central fliter rather than sending a circular to each ISP to independently filter - purely on a technical level. Question of whether its ethical to censor content in the first place is for another post.

Concerned bloggers & internet users are encouraged to join Blogger Collective. There are a lot of enthusiastic people trying to get all sort of information on whys, whats and whos of this unfortunate incident. There's also a Wiki in place, called Bloggers Against Censorship.

One of the problems that I am seeing with this incident, which I have seen in other similar incidents is with bloggers "soliciting comments/responses" from government officials. The very first question they ask you is "Who are you and Which media outlet do you represent". And unless you say you are from a respected (read: known) media outlet, you'd be mostly be treated to repeated hang-ups, transfers and throw-abouts. Your answer that "I am a blogger" at best draws a chuckle or a counter question as to what is a blogger. I think this is an universal problem for all bloggers. It may be less prevalent in the US as there is a lot of awareness of blogging and blogs, but its virtually unknown in countries like India. So, what can be done? One possible solution is to create an umbrella organization like Associated Press. AP is a commercial news agency owned by the contributing news services, just like Reuters, AFP or PTI in India. Bloggers could become "card carrying" member of such an organization for a nominal fee and gets the protection & recognition of being part of something.

Maybe its time for Bloggers' Trust of India?


Indian Newspapers have started to pick up this news. Here are some of them:
I would love to meet the official who said the following: "We would like those people to come forward who access these (the 12) radical websites and please explain to us what are they missing from their lives in the absence of these sites."

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