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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Indian bloggers blocked by government

The blogger scene is bubbling with the news that the Indian government has blocked access to a number of popular blogging websites.

"According recent coverage from BoingBoing, India’s Department of Telecommunications sent an order to the countries ISPs to block user access to blogger, Blogspot, GeoCities and more than 15 other sites.It isn’t clear what technology is being used to block the sites or if all of India’s web users are being affected and the government hasn’t disclosed exactly why it ordered the sites blocked. Both Google and Yahoo are looking in to why large networks of sites have been blocked."

"The directive from the department of telecommunications came days after the Mumbai blasts, and was aimed at shutting 17 blogs which carried material from religious and political extremists."

Will this be a sign of times that governments shut down systems in case of perceived threats? Isn't it also true that blogs alerted governments and international organisations to internal threats in a country and don't blogs become more and more involved in regular news reporting? The action by the Indian government is understandable, short term, after the recent bombings in Mumbai, even so it might be heavy-handed. However it would be a pity of the Indian government if they don't realise the negative effect this might have on their reputation if they are not opening up the space again.

As one blogger in India points out succinctively:
"People go to vote, you can select a government, you can throw out a government. But you can't decide which website you can read and which website you cannot read," says Amrit Hallan, a blogger.

(By Asia Business Consulting)