Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Why Blogspot Was Blocked In India?

Recently the Blogspot domain (hosted services) and sub domain (free blogs) were systematically blocked by many of the internet service providers (ISPs) of India. The blogs and hosted contents were inaccessible to many site/blog owners. At the same time many did not even noticed this fact and doubted whether something like this happened at all.

While there is no doubt that Blogspot faced a serious outage in India yet there are two viewpoints regarding this outage. One view considers this as a mere technical glitch whereas other viewpoint considers it as an exercise of blocking by Indian government.

For some strange reasons, Google did not reply back as to the cause of this outage and this is something that is troubling me. Google had enough time to analyse the traffic reports and respond back yet it preferred to keep a mum.

In this situation and without any technical analysis and inputs from Google’s side, I would presume this outage as a part of experimental blocking on the part of Indian government. In the past Blogspot was blocked due to lack of technical capabilities of Indian ISPs. The ISPs were ordered to block certain specific Blogs and without expertise they blocked the entire domain.

The present episode is not a result of either lack of expertise or mistake or a technical glitch. It is also not aimed at curbing the freedom of speech and expression of Indian Bloggers. So what was the reason for this blockage?

As I said before it may be an “experimental blockage” that took place at the point where Internet traffic enters and exists India. This exercise may have different names. Some may call it an Internet Kill Switch (IKS) whereas others may call it a Centralised Monitoring System (CMS). Whatever the name you may wish to give it, we need measures to prevent its abuse in India.

Since the recent blocking of Blogspot has no political purpose, we should restrain from associating the episode with politics. However, the episode is inseparable with civil liberties issues, especially when there are no procedural safeguards against the abuse of projects like IKS, CMS, national intelligence grid (Natgrid), Aadhar project, etc.

It is high time for the Parliament of India to fulfill the responsibilities entrusted to it by Indian Constitution and enact suitable laws and procedural safeguards in this regard. Presently there are none and this is not healthy for our Democracy.