Indian Government Ordered To Unblock All 32 Websites
The government has ordered ISPs to unblock the 32 websites that had been blocked last month for hosting “jihadi propaganda”, sources in the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) said. The Deity functions under the union ministry of communications and information technology.
The block, which had websites like github.com, vimeo.com and dailymotion.com at the receiving end, was put on the request of the Anti-Terrorism Squad, Mumbai. On December 31 itself, senior government officials had said that the unblocking process had started for websites that have complied with the Indian government’s request. The block had been lifted for four websites at the time.
On Saturday, TOI could access all the 32 links listed in the original, confidential Department of Telecom (DoT) order dated December 17.
The batch of 32 websites, blocked following a November order from the additional chief metropolitan magistrate in Mumbai, included several popular websites for collaborative projects like github.com, justpaste.it, pastebin.com etc. They are typically favoured by software developers. Popular video-sharing services Vimeo and Dailymotion were also blocked.
“I would say better sense has prevailed. You can block a particular organisation’s website in national interest. But with websites like pastebin, which are used by a limited audience, blocking doesn’t serve any purpose. There are always other websites for wrongdoers to go to,” says cyber security analyst Jiten Jain.
There has been concern over the lack of transparency of the block as well. The websites were blocked under section 69 A of the IT Act, 2000 and the IT (Procedure and safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009. The rules mandate that “strict confidentiality shall be maintained regarding all the requests and complaints received and actions taken, thereof.”
“It’s good that the websites have been unblocked now. But the larger issue still remains that the whole procedure of blocking is confidential under the sec 69 A rules,” says Prasanth Sugathan, counsel at the Software Freedom and Law Center.