Indian Bloggers May Get Reprieve

Indian bloggers are likely to get a reprieve as Indian ISPs reverse a blanket block of key blogging sites, according to an executive of an association of Indian ISPs.

The ISP Association of India in Delhi has recommended to its members to remove the blanket blocks, and instead block only the 17 specific sites and blogs that the Indian government has ordered ISPs to block, said Deepak Maheshwari, secretary of the ISP Association of India in Delhi on Thursday. The association has only advisory powers and cannot instruct individual ISPs, he added.

The Indian government’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) notified ISPs on July 13 that they had to block 17 websites and blogs.

The notice did not specify the reason why they were to be blocked, but according to informed sources, the Indian government wanted to block these websites and blogs in India because of apprehensions that these were likely being used by terrorists to communicate with one another.

Indian police are investigating bomb blasts earlier this month in trains in the city of Mumbai that killed about 200 and injured more than 700.

Some ISPs overcautiously blocked entire domains such as Google’s www.blogspot.com rather than the sub-domains that they had been instructed to block, Maheshwari said. Indian bloggers were thus denied access to a large number of blogs on these and other domains, he added.

The Indian government’s instruction to ISPs to block the 17 websites and blogs remains unchanged, Maheshwari said.

Under India’s Information Technology Act 2000, websites can be blocked if they are found to be promoting hate, violence, terrorism, or pornography including child pornography.

The blocking of the blogs led to an outcry among bloggers in India, who feared that the government was attempting to subvert freedom on the Internet.

-John Ribeiro, IDG News Service (Bangalore Bureau)

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