Who ordered Vimeo to be blocked? Not DoT, says RTI reply #censorship


Deutsch: Logo des Videoportals Vimeo

Published: Wednesday, Jun 13, 2012, 11:18 IST
By Subir Ghosh | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA

The ire of hacktivist group Anonymous that was directed at the government over blocking of sites like vimeo.com and Pirate Bay may not have been justified – the ban on these sites, in fact, was not ordered by the Department of Telecommunications.

In response to a RTI query made by the Delhi-based Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC), the department replied, “As per available information no blocking instruction to block websites like Pirate-bay and Vimeo etc. has been issued by the Department of Telecommunications to Internet Service Providers (sic).”
The revelation by the department assumes significance since most of the anger of groups like Anonymous had been directed against it, particularly over these two sites.

On June 9, countrywide protests were organised by Anonymous. Dressed in black and wearing Guy Fawkes masks, about 100 people staged a demonstration at the city’s Azad Maidan in protest against the Union government’s internet policies. The Indian wing of the group was created in the backdrop of the recent outrage over the IT Act Intermediaries Rules and blocking of sites.

SFLC itself does not want to hazard a guess on who ordered the blocks, but falls back on reports to conjecture that these might have been carried out by ISPs to comply with interim injunctions styled as John Doe orders issued by the Chennai High Court in response to a suit filed by producers of the Tamil film ‘3’, arguably better known for its chartbuster ‘Kolaveri’.

SFLC counsel Prasanth Sugathan said it did not matter so much who had handed out the orders. “It is the issues raised that are important. One should not lose sight of core issues (that of internet freedom),” he said. SFLC, among other things, works towards protecting digital freedoms.

Vimeo.com, Pirate Bay and a other sites continue to be blocked across many ISPs for over a month now. According to SFLC, the error message shown on trying to access the blocked sites on the Airtel network was, “This website/URL has been blocked until further notice either pursuant to Court orders or on the Directions issued by the Department of Tellecommunciations

Read more here

INDIFFERENCE TO INTERNET –Apathetic state #censorship


Javed Anwer | June 2, 2012, TOI Crest

 

Two weeks ago, millions of perplexed internet users in India woke up to discover that they had been suddenly cut off from a clutch of very popular file-sharing and video websites. This was ostensibly done to ‘protect copyright’ and involved an Indian film body, a court order and internet service providers (ISPs). Indian cyberspace erupted with indignation. As later reported, there was much that was arbitrary about the action. It also raises some fundamental questions about regulating the internet in India.
In this latest instance, there were also, initially, no clear answers as to who cut off access to these websites? A notice telling users that ‘this website has been blocked as per DoT orders, ‘ appeared first. DoT apparently meant Department of Telecom. After a couple of days the message was changed to ‘the website has been blocked as per a court order. ‘ DoT later clearly denied it had issued any such order. And here lies one part of the problem.

No internet service provider (ISP) bothered to explain which court order, or what the issue at hand was. In fact, Indian ISPs have been blocking and unblocking websites on the basis of broad and rather vague court orders against piracy for a while now. This is clearly problematic, as there appears to be no system or detailed governmental guidelines in place to do such things.

At first glance, it seems logical. A court ordered the blocking of some websites and lawabiding ISPs complied. But it is not so simple. This whole saga is also a sordid tale of how casually the Indian government and ISPs treat the issue of web access in India, perhaps a fundamental right of sorts across the globe now. It also shows the lack of a proper system of wellthought out state oversight over the very firms tasked with connecting Indians to the internet.

In this case, the Madras high court only issued an order against a specific case of piracy. It didn’t order that websites be blocked. CERTIN, the nodal government agency in question, did not issue any directives to ISPs in this case. And the Chennai-based firm that filed the lawsuit later claimed it never asked anyone to block complete websites – only that access to some specific web links on these sites be cut off.

Clearly, ISPs seem to wield arbitrary powers in India, either due to poorly-framed IT rules that were notified last April, or because of the apathy that the concerned ministries seem to display on the matter. ISPs (most of whom are also big telecom companies) behave this way because they neither seem to be accountable to consumers nor to the government, on the vital matter of free and unfettered access to the net (bound by reasonable restrictions, of course) which is what consumers are paying for.

Blocking websites is a serious matter. Done the wrong way, it is tantamount to trampling on free speech. The UN has said that free and open access to the web is a human right. Countries like Finland have even made it a legal right for their citizens. And free speech matters greatly to mature democracies tackling similar issues. Consider how when US legislators were debating their Stop Online Piracy Act, which allowed for something like what ISPs did in India, President Obama threatened to veto the act if it was passed.

No one denies that there are problems with the web. But the solution to these problems does not lie with our ISPs being willing to play trigger-happy cops. The internet is inherently disruptive technology. Copyright piracy, for instance, is a serious issue and must be dealt with carefully. In the digital world it is very difficult to sort issues out in a black and white fashion. That’s the main reason why the same websites blocked in India continue to be available in most other countries, including the US – where the most stringent copyright and anti-piracy laws in the world are enforced.

But in India, state indifference to understanding the internet appears to be the biggest problem. Besides, the government keeps going off on other tangents. For instance, Kapil Sibal, our telecom minister, has been going on about how the web should be regulated. Shouldn’t he be talking about how the web in India can be kept free instead? His ministry, instead of devising ways to monitor social media websites, should be working to create a framework where intermediaries like website owners and ISPs don’t abuse the power they have over users. Instead of worrying about Twitter, shouldn’t the government be working to create institutions and net watchdogs (on the lines of TRAI perhaps) that make sure Indians can access the internet freely?

If websites had been blocked arbitrarily in the West, ISPs would have been sued or penalised by government watchdogs. They would have been hounded by courts for abusing a just order. But not in India – a pity for a country that claims to be among the world’s most vibrant democracies.

Hackers protest torrent ban, take down SC, Congress sites



TNN | May 18, 2012,

MUMBAI: Online hacker group Anonymous targeted websites of the Supreme Court of India and the All India Congress Committee on Thursday to protest Internet censorship.

Anonymous launched Operation India with a tweet that said, “Namaste #India, your time has come to trash the current government and install a new one. Good luck.”

A YouTube video uploaded on May 15 by user Sen0nymous, titled ‘Operation India Engaged’, issued a call to action for fellow hackers. The video stated, “It has been known that the Government of India and its ministers are committing aristocracy. The idea of democracy remains an idea only.”

“We were and are watching closely all activities of the Government and its ministers. Many ministers were and are charged with severe cases of corruption. They do not care. They do not care for the injustice happening. They do not care for the freedom being snatched.”

“The Government has been covering up its activities and hiding the facts from its citizens. It has imposed the IT Act which allows it to censor the internet as it seems fit. None other than the Department of Telecommunications needs to be blamed. One cannot block on purview of security concerns.”

On Thursday afternoon, the websites of the Supreme Court (supremecourtofindia.nic.in) and the All India Congress Committee (aicc.org.in) were attacked and taken down. The Supreme Court’s portal was back after a few hours, but the hackers said AICC will remain down the whole day.

The Twitter account for Operation India, @opindia_revenge, claimed it had also targeted the website of the Department of Telecommunications (dot.gov.in), but it was quickly back.

Similarly, Sen0nymous reported that the Delhi government‘s portal (delhi.gov.in) had been targeted , but it was back soon after.

The attacks come after the government asked Internet Service Providers to block websites such as The Pirate Bay, a file-sharing site, as well as video-sharing service Vimeo among others.

Anonymous is a disbanded group of unknown hackers spread across the globe. The international ‘hacktivist’ group has previously attacked the US Department of Justice, US Copyrights Office, Sony Playstation Network, FBI and Egyptian government websites, among others.

Hackers protest torrent ban, take down SC, Congress sites

TNN | May 18, 2012, 01.22AM IST
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MUMBAI: Online hacker group Anonymous targeted websites of the Supreme Court of India and the All India Congress Committee on Thursday to protest Internet censorship.

Anonymous launched Operation India with a tweet that said, “Namaste #India, your time has come to trash the current government and install a new one. Good luck.”

A YouTube video uploaded on May 15 by user Sen0nymous, titled ‘Operation India Engaged’, issued a call to action for fellow hackers. The video stated, “It has been known that the Government of India and its ministers are committing aristocracy. The idea of democracy remains an idea only.”

“We were and are watching closely all activities of the Government and its ministers. Many ministers were and are charged with severe cases of corruption. They do not care. They do not care for the injustice happening. They do not care for the freedom being snatched.”

“The Government has been covering up its activities and hiding the facts from its citizens. It has imposed the IT Act which allows it to censor the internet as it seems fit. None other than the Department of Telecommunications needs to be blamed. One cannot block on purview of security concerns.”

On Thursday afternoon, the websites of the Supreme Court (supremecourtofindia.nic.in) and the All India Congress Committee (aicc.org.in) were attacked and taken down. The Supreme Court’s portal was back after a few hours, but the hackers said AICC will remain down the whole day.

The Twitter account for Operation India, @opindia_revenge, claimed it had also targeted the website of the Department of Telecommunications (dot.gov.in), but it was quickly back.

Similarly, Sen0nymous reported that the Delhi government’s portal (delhi.gov.in) had been targeted , but it was back soon after.

The attacks come after the government asked Internet Service Providers to block websites such as The Pirate Bay, a file-sharing site, as well as video-sharing service Vimeo among others.

Anonymous is a disbanded group of unknown hackers spread across the globe. The international ‘hacktivist’ group has previously attacked the US Department of Justice, US Copyrights Office, Sony Playstation Network, FBI and Egyptian government websites, among others.

Reliance Communications Blocks The Pirate Bay & Vimeo #SatyamevJayate #Aamirkhan


By Vikas SN on May 4th, 2012 | , Media Nama

It appears that Reliance Communications has blocked video sharing website Vimeo and torrent website The Pirate Bay. While the reason of the block is not yet known, these websites are apparently blocked as per the instructions of Department of Telecommunications (DoT) (screenshot below). We tried accessing Vimeo and several other torrent websites and were instead redirected to a landing page which mentions that “The site has been blocked as per instructions from the Department of Telecom”. We are not sure on the range of the torrent websites blocked, since we were able to access a few popular torrent websites at the time of writing this article.

Why Vimeo? While the block on torrent sites are understandable, we are intrigued by the block on Vimeo, since its is just a video sharing website, quite similar to YouTube. Was Vimeo blocked because it houses user generated videos? If thats the reason, will YouTube and other video sharing websites be the next target in this site blocking spree?

Another thing to ponder is that the reason for the block has been suggested as an order from the Department of Telecommunication (DoT), but we wonder if Reliance has obtained yet another John Doe order to block the above mentioned websites, considering that it is releasing a Bollywood movie next week.

Last Years Blocks

In July 2011, where several ISPs including Airtel had blocked access to several file sharing sites like Mediafire.com, Megaupload.com, Rapidshare.com, Sendspace.com, Megavideo.com, VideoBB.com, Novamov.com, Movshare.com, Putlocker.com, Hotfile.com, Fileserve.com, Filesonic.com, Filesonic.in, Depositfiles.com, Wupload.com, Uploaded.to, and Uploadstation.com, suggesting the reason of block, as an order from the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) but it was later revealed that the block was instituted because of a John Doe order from the Delhi High Court, allowing Reliance Big Pictures to prevent piracy of its movie Singham. A month later, Reliance Entertainment had got yet another John Doe order from the Delhi High Court to prevent piracy of its movie Bodyguard.

That being said, it should be noted that these blocks are limited to Reliance Broadband at present and the above mentioned websites worked fine on a BSNL broadband connection.

Report The Blocks To Us

If you know of any other ISP which has blocked these websites, do let us know in the comments below. Please mention your location and ISP, and add a screenshot of the blocks for The Pirate Bay and Vimeo. So far:

– Reliance Communications Data Card: Yes, both blocked
– Reliance Wireline, Mumbai/Gujarat: Yes, both blocked
– MTNL Delhi/Mumbai: No
– Airtel Delhi/Bangalore/Mumbai/Pune/Chennai: No
– BSNL Bangalore/Pune/Andhra Pradesh/Gurgaon: No
– Tata Pune: No
– Sify Pune: No
– Hathway Mumbai: No
– Syscon Infoway: Yes, both blocked
– Zylog Wi5: Yes, both blocked
– Aircel Ahmedabad: Yes
– Vodafone 3G, Ahmedabad/Maharashtra: Yes, both blocked.
– Tikona, Mumbai: Yes, both blocked.
– You Broadband: No

Original Article here

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