India Blocks Dailymotion, Sourceforge and More on Anti-Terror Advisory

The controversy over Internet censorship has appeared in India. Websites such as Dailymotion, Github, Internet Archive, and Sourceforge are among a list of websites that were recently censored by the government. Some websites have had their blocks removed since the initial wave of censorship, but some sites still remain blocked.

India has blocked over 60 websites in December based on an advisory by the Anti-Terrorism squad. The India Times is reporting that the code sharing and open source hosting websites were somehow “hosting content that is pro terrorist group ISIS and not cooperating with government investigations”

More from the report:

Officials from the department of Information Technology and the department of telecom were not available for comment. “These are all providing very dangerous kind of cut and paste services..You can take code, cut it, paste it, remove it, delete it,” said one government official who requested anonymity.

[…]

the inclusion of services like Github and Sourceforge that host code for open source software are causing much anger among the developer community. “Sometimes they might need to block specific URLs, but blocking the entire website is wrong or they haven’t thought through it,” said Thejesh GN, the co-founder of Datameet and an open source developer.

“There is also a lack of transparency where people don’t get to know why their sites were blocked,” he added.

“We’re aware of reports of connectivity issues in India. We’re looking into it, and will update with more information when we have it,” a Github spokesperson said.

What’s particularly puzzling is how copying and pasting is in any way dangerous. If there was content that India objected to, wouldn’t it make more sense to either report it to a site like Pastebin rather than block the entire site? If any blocking was going to take place, you’d think specific URLs would make more sense on a site like that. Some might argue that this is like shutting down all companies that produce steak knives because some knives might be used for dangerous activities.

The news hit Slashdot where the move was, among other things, ridiculed.

“Copy, paste, remove, delete? This is why we invented nukes, people.” wrote PrimeWaveZ.

“I’d request anonymity too, if I went around in public saying stupid cr** like that.” commented spauldo.

Outrage poured over Twitter via #GOIBlocks

Quickbug wrote, “Dear Frands Please join PM Modiji in protest against crackdown on freedom of speech”

iAmMusa writes, “We Are Going Back To The Stone Age! #GOIBlocks Websites Under PM @narendramodi Who Had Put Black DP Against UPA2 On Similar Issue!”

Today, ZDNet is reporting that the ban on some websites have been lifted:

The Indian government’s sweeping block on websites alleged to host terrorist content has been lifted on gist.github, Vimeo, Weebly and Dailymotion — but 28 sites still remain banned under the order.

The block on 32 websites for alleged “Jihadi Propaganda” included the four sites along with Pastebin, Internet Archive, Weebly and many others still banned in the country.

The block affects at least 290 million Indian citizens — a total approaching the population of the United States (316 million).

The India arm of Anonymous didn’t seem to think this move was good enough and has threatened the Indian government with action if the bans on the remaining sites are not lifted. AnonOpsIndia wrote, “Government websites need a fresh look for 2015. We will give them a new year gift if they don’t unblock all the websites.”

So, for the time being, it doesn’t look like this story is going to end any time soon.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.


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