Saturday, January 14, 2012

DOT India Must Investigate Reliance Websites Blocking Case

The department of information technology (DIT) is the concerned department that deals with issues pertaining to websites blocking in India. DIT has prescribed a standard procedure if an individual or company wishes to get a website blocked in India. Such procedure has been prescribed under the information technology act 2000 (IT Act 2000) and its rules that is the cyber law of India.

In a recent criminal case, a trial court of Delhi has asked representatives of companies like Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc to appear in person. If these companies fail to make a proper representation and comply with Indian laws, Indian government can block their websites in India.

Every country has this right to block websites to enforce its national laws and India is not unique in adopting this approach. However, the laws of website blocking must be uniformly applied without any discrimination. If foreign websites and companies are treated stringently then domestic websites and companies must also be treated similarly.

According to Praveen Dalal, managing partner of law firm Perry4Law and leading cyber expert of Asia, Websites can be “Legally Blocked” in India on the direction of a Competent Court of India if these Websites fail to “Comply” with such Court’s Directions. Further, Websites can also be blocked in India if the Designated Officer, appointed by Indian Government, Directs an Indian Government Agencies like Computer Emergency Response Team, India (CERT-IN) to block such Websites, informs Praveen Dalal.

Clearly, there is no provision where private individuals or companies can block websites according to their own whims and fancies. Recently, doubts about the legality of websites blocking by Reliance entertainment have surfaced. If DIT wishes to maintain a neutral and justice oriented approach towards all companies and websites, then it must investigate whether Reliance entertainment has blocked such site legally or illegally?

If telecom companies are allowed to block websites by bypassing Indian cyber law, then the entire purpose of the same is frustrated. Further, in such situations it is wrong to ask companies like Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc to comply with Indian laws.

DIT must first set its own home in order so that its can ask others to follow its directions. This episode of Reliance has put a question mark upon the very system that has been used in India to block domestic and foreign websites. We hope Reliance in general and DIT in particular would publicly come up with an explanation in this regard.