According to Shivam Vij, the 22-page ban order refers to “sites to be blocked”. If that was the case, the ISPs must have gone for the overkill. Why? But that’s not the fundamental issue.
I have been able to visit a few blogspot sites from home. That’s strange because blogspot is supposed to be blocked completely. At work too we been able to continue reading and writing blogspot blogs.
In the name of terrorism entities such as the Indian Computer Response Team have become essential. According Vij: “Web sites can be blocked if they contain pornography, speeches of hate, contempt, slander or defamation, or if they promote gambling, racism, violence or terrorism.” But what’s required of the Government of India is to have clearly laid down guidelines for agency to act in such circumstances. The fact that “illegal” read hate sites that are patently undemocratic and people with clear anti-democratic intent have a disproportionate presence online, especially in the India context. The ought to be mechanism to ensure that genuine democratic voices are heard and that fundamentalists do not hold sway or a medium as beautiful as this.
So, we need to demand for the government to postulate clear guidelines.
In the immediate context, however, the very first question proposed to be addressed to the Joint Director and PIO (RTI) at the Department of Information Technology (DIT), is the crucial one:
Has there been a directive issued by the Ministry of Communications & Information Technology to block the domains http://www.blogspot.com, http://www.typepad.com and http://www.geocities.com?
The answer to this should be available through journalists on the beat. Why haven’t we still been able to get some informed leak yet?
There ought to be a proportionate response to this action by the ISPs. If the government order some website with offensive content to be blocked are they in their right to do so? Secondly, who is the one to decide what is offensive?
While a grand coalition has emerged it is crucial that the issue has to be sustaining and should transcend the immediate. We need to focus on freedom of information that is catholic in nature. The fact that so much of firepower is garnered by the blocking of blogs is indicative of the ability to utilise this tool to not only raise but win issues that have a more egalitarian gournding.
I would loath to think that the action to call for blocking a few websites were ordered because “terrorists” of the bombing kind were using blog to send out messages. It often is counterproductive to indulge in kite-flying. Here’s a quote Kiruba Shankar’s blog:
I love this particular quote by Ravi Kiran, “You know what really scares me? Some bureaucrat learnt that terror groups are using blogs to communicate. Instead of deciding to read those blogs to find out what they are upto, he decides to ban them. I am shit-scared that my country’s security is in that guy’s hands”
These are soundbites that are fun to read. But this is serious. Why blogs? Was it because of hate mongering instead?
Mainstream media coverage
Blogs and RTI Act