The blog ban has been lifted. Indian ISPs are slowly responding to the DoT’s order that all the sites not in the provided list must be made accessable. By now most of the ISP have allowed access to the blocked sites.
The good news is that it was an accident – a stupid accident, by the way, but still just an accident. I really had trouble believing our government would intentionally block thousands of blogs without a very pressing reason. Unfortunately, many Indian bloggers have jumped to the conclusion that it is the case. Many were of the opinion that government banned blogs because they were used by terrorists. Basic FUD.
The current problem in the Indian blogsphere is the procedure adopted by DoT to block sites – they can say that some sites must be blocked and the ISPs have to do it – there is no controlling procedure for this. That means that they can block, say, DesiPundit and not give any reason for why it was blocked. This scares a lot of folks – and with good reason.
In most cases, censorship on the internet is counter-productive. Case in point – the ‘blog ban’ we just witnessed. This ban was aimed at blocking 17 sites(list given below). However due to the publicity the ban received, the banned sites are receiving hundreds of times their normal traffic. It is mind-numbingly easy to get around the current form of censorship – all you have to do is use an open proxy to access the site you want to visit. All that the government does is annoy the surfer a bit. Now China’s model of censorship is better. I am not saying that China’s censorship is a good thing – just examining it from a practical point of view. China uses firewall based censoring – this is very easy to go around. But they then take it to another level – they control the search engines – so people cannot search for some phases like ‘democracy’,’freedom of speech’ etc. Even more powerful form of censorship they use is the terror approach – if someone publishes something they don’t like the government puts them in jail. Huge human rights violation – but it works(atleast better just banning the sites).
Anyway, now it is over. It united many people. Some even managed to find humor in it. We got mentions from many big sites like Digg, Slashdot, Wired, Boing Boing and more. I am sure we got some new visitors due to the ban – even though they lost the existing traffic for the banned period.