Internet censorship in India

Internet censorship in India

Internet censorship in India is carried out by Central as well as state governments of India, despite Article 19 of the Indian Constitution which guarantees freedom of speech to all its citizens.

History and law

The Government of India established the [ Computer Emergency Response Team] , or CERT-IN, as a means to monitor all incoming and outgoing Internet traffic from India. The primary purpose of CERT-IN is to handle Internet security and many institutions and agencies are allowed to call on it, including the home affairs ministry, courts, the intelligence services, the police and the head of the National Human Rights Commission. CERT-IN's stated main mission is to enhance the security of India's Communications and Information Infrastructure through proactive action and effective collaboration.

Currently, there is no established law as to which websites the government censors, or when. In the past, mainly pornographic and anti-establishment political websites have been blocked. Once in a while, western news sites have also been blocked, though these blocks were usually short-lived.Fact|date=February 2007

In 2001, the Bombay High Court appointed a Committee to oversee issues relating to cyber pornography and Cybercrime. [ Report of the Committee Appointed by the Bombay High Court] . The Court invited the petitioners Jayesh Thakkar and Sunil Thacker as [ special invitees] to provide their inputs and recommendations on cyber laws. The Committee upon identifying key issues made recommendations such as licensing of Cyber cafe, introducing identity cards for Cyber cafe visitors, ensure that Cyber Cafe that have cubicles or partitions be required to ensure that minors are not allowed to use machines in cubicles or behind partitions, mandatory maintaining of IP logs by cyber cafe, and so on. The Committee made several other recommendations such as connectivity and authentication at Internet service provider level which provided that Internet service providers were responsible for time clock coordination and record keeping. The report addressed the issue of protecting minor children from accessing adult sites and made a recommendation that Internet Service Providers must provide parental control software with every Internet connection. The committee placed a special emphasis on lack of technical knowledge in the police and recommended special training of cyber cops. The report of the committee's recommendations were well received by the Courts and are being put in to practice by the Police and Cyber cafes jointly. The Cyber Crime Investigation Cell was set up pursuant to a recommendation made by the committee.

A draft broadcast bill is being introduced which if passed would enable muzzling of all forms of mainstream media under conditions such as "reports implicating friendly nations".Fact|date=February 2007

Instances of censorship

Censorship during the Kargil War

In the wake of the Kargil War in 1999, the website of Dawn Newspaper was blocked from access within India by Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited [ [ India blocks Pakistani newspaper web site] ] [ [ Grateful Dawn group writes to Express] ] , a government-owned telecommunications company which at the time had monopoly control of the international Internet gateways in India. Media site Rediff elicited that the ban was instigated by the Indian government, and then published detailed instructions as to how one could bypass the filter and view the site.

Yahoo Groups ban, Sep 2003

The first documented incident of Internet censorship in India was the Yahoo groups ban of 23rd September 2003.

Kynhun, a Yahoo group linked to the outlawed "Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council", a minor separatist group from the North-Eastern state of Meghalaya, which espoused the case of the Khasi tribe was banned.

The order to implement the ban was forwarded to Indian ISP's by the Department of Telecommunications. Difficulties in implementing the ban by the ISP's ultimately led to all Yahoo groups being banned for a period of about two weeks.

Internet censorship of July 2006

The second reported incident of Internet censorship is the Indian Government's censorship of 17 websites including some blogs starting July 1, 2006.

The actual order did not ask for, or to be blocked. However, the inability of Indian ISP's to block specified sub-domains, once again led to these sites being temporarily blocked..

Rediff drops bulletin boards on Glasgow attack

The leading Indian website rediff has dropped bulletin boards on all news items relating to the Glasgow attacks and other stories related with terrorism. This order is supposed to be a self censorship based on guidelines from the government. The Rediff message boards were a forum where hostile messages were posted after news surfaced of the terrorists being Indian Muslims.

Future Plans

* The government is also planning to set up a centralized mechanism at the eight landing stations for the country to block websites as and when it pleases [ [ Screening for dangerous blogs, sites] ] .
* Indian law enforcement has entered an agreement with the popular social networking site Orkut to track down what it deems to be "defamatory content". [ [ Orkut In Pact With Indian Law Enforcement] Slashdot]
* There have been reports about Blackberry devices sought to being banned in India due to security concerns. [ [ An Innocuous Berry] ] .
* On November 1, 2007, The Economic Times reported that the Government of India was considering a ban on "posting of private and personal videos on internet and mobiles" to tackle cyber crime and piracy. [cite web
url =
title = Govt weighs ban on posting videos on net
author = Niranjan Bharati
date = November 1, 2007
accessdate = 2007-11-01

External links

* [] Natural Porn Killers - Jayesh and Sunil Thacker (Mid Day - October 7, 2001)
* [] HC admits cyberporn complaint as PIL (Times of India, July 13, 2001)
* [] Cyberporn panel set up, HC wants minors protected, Sunil Thacker invited as a special invitee (Times of India, September 30, 2001)
* []
* [] Rude encounters with Internet censorship; The Hoot on the blocking of Yahoo! Groups in 2003.
* [ IndoSec, India's Yahoo Groups ban of 2003] , documenting the Yahoo Groups ban of September 2003
* [ Ban on Websites Draws Concern] - IFEX
* [] An application to India's Department of Telecom regarding details of Internet censorship, filed by a blogger-journalist in September 2006 under the provision of India's Right to Information Act, 2005.
* [] Are ISPs blocking blogs? Rediff, 17 July
* [] Blog blockade will be lifted in 48 hours (Rediff)
* [ Google, Yahoo, Skype Facing Scrutiny in India] over Illegal Net Telephony (2007)


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