The Great India Blog Ban

Posted on July 28, 2006

Shortly after the terrorist attack in Mumbai on July 11th, India ordered blocks of several blogging tools and websites. These included the blogging services at blogspot.com and typepad.com. The Hindustan Times says Indian media first reported the Indian government was concerned terrorists were using blogs.
Last week the government banned access to 17 Internet Web sites and blogs it says preach messages of religious hatred. Silence is golden it is said. But our babus are desperate to prove their illiteracy. So instead of banning the offensive sites and blogs entire domains such as blogspot.com and typepad.com with its thousands and millions of journals of creative expression were completely blocked.

No proper explanation was given for the ban. One major news channel said that "terrorists were now using blogs to get their message across!" while some other said that "terrorists were now tech savvy and using blogs". The details of links between terrorists and blogs nobody was able to explain. My guess is even the TV news editor or presenter or reporter won't know!
The Hindustan Times article also cites the Ministry of Communication's Indian Computer Emergency Response Team as saying the blogs were "pitting Muslim against non-Muslim." Some sources are also suggesting the megablock was a technological error that made the block much bigger than it was intended. Blogger Buzz posted links to a few bloggers covering the story including Kiran Jonnalagadda and Within Without. There were also good posts on Global Voices by Kamla Bhatt and Neha Viswanathan.

A blog called Digital Inspiration posted tricks banned bloggers could use to access their blogs. Looking at some of the entries at the BloggersCollective Google Group it looks like many India locations are no longer blocked. This is not the first time a country has banned Blogspot blogs. Pakistan has blocked Blogspot blogs at least twice -- one incident was when they were trying to block blogs that were showing the Mohammed cartoons and they blocked all of Blogspot instead of just the individual blogs showing the cartoons.