New Delhi: An analysis of a leaked list of items that were ordered to be blocked by Indian Internet Service Providers (ISPs) on directions from the Department of Telecom bring to light the inconsistencies in India's online censorship efforts.
Pranesh Prakash, programme manager at the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS), analysed the 309 specific items that were asked to be censored from August 18, till August 21, 2012 by the Indian government following the recent incidents of communal violence and the mass exodus of North East Indians from Bangalore.
"It is clear that the list was not compiled with sufficient care," Prakash writes in a post on the CIS website that reveals several egregious errors in the censorship process.
An analysis of a leaked list of items that were ordered to be blocked in India bring to light inconsistencies in censorship efforts.
While the government put on its censor gear to apparently stop rumours from spreading, Prakash discovered that "people and posts debunking rumours have been blocked." Also there are some items on the list that do not even exist online.
The 309 items that were ordered to be blocked include URLs, Twitter accounts, img tags, blog posts, blogs, and a few websites.
Prakash, a graduate of the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, also raises the questions on the legal standing of the government's actions. "The blocking of many of the items on that list are legally questionable and morally indefensible, even while a some of the items ought, in my estimation, to be removed," he says.
Indian ISPs are also known to go overboard in their efforts to comply with any government order. There have been numerous incidents in the past when ISPs were asked to block a specific URL and they ended up blocking entire domains. The latest round of censorship is also no different. There have been reports of Airtel blocking the entire YouTube short URL youtu.be in some cities.
CIS hasn't published the complete list of the blocked items given "the sensitivity of the issue" but has posted a list of domains from which specific items have been asked to be blocked, though the websites have not been blocked. The list follows:
- India tops content removal requests: Google Transparency Report
- Censor war: Online India vs 'Big Brother' Kapil Sibal
- Open letter to Kapil Sibal: A dummies guide to offensive content removal
- The Social Networker: Power to the People