Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Blogs Blocked

At least the blogspot ones are. And the ones hosted on geocities and typepad as well. Soon it might be the turn of other blog hosts too. And this evidently is on the orders of the Government of India. The gag has been put in place because apparently, terrorists are now using blogs to communicate.

When I received an email from Mridula, I thought that it was just a temporary ISP glitch. (Ban in India? For us Indians these sort of things happen only in Pakistan or China, but a gag on the Freedom of Speech in India -- never.) Moreover, whoever I contacted confirmed that blogs were accessible. However it looks like some ISP's were just slow in implementing the gag order. I came online a while ago to catch up on my blog reading, to find that not a single blogspot blog is accessible through my Sify broadband connection.

I would like to know which incompetent, clueless, overbearing fool ordered this gag. Doesn't the government have anything better to do?

And it is all so irritating, frustrating, and pathetic.

I can access blogger. Which means that I can log into my blog account, write a post, edit it, if I feel like it -- color the text, change the font style, wonder if the government doesn't have any serious "governing" to do, and while I am it -- call the government overbearing, foolish, clueless, incompetent (might as well add stupid, dim-witted, and idiotic to the list), and then publish it.

But I can't read my own post on my blog without resorting to what seems like underground resistance.

Bloggers have already banded together: there's a bloggers' collective on Google groups. A wiki: Bloggers Against Censorship has come up that lists the ISP's that have blocked blogspot and typepad. A page very helpfully lists various workarounds so that people can still access blogs. And of course a page that lists bloggers who are at the picket line voicing their protest.

If you are a blogger please write a post and join the protest. And if you are not a blogger, join the protests too -- email your friends, talk to your neighbor -- spread the word. Stop this policing now.

Or before you realize it we'll be back to typing letters in triplicate because some idiot in the government might decide email too needs blocking.

And it would mean that for once the terrorists have won. We can't allow that to happen, can we?


Here's a quick list of workarounds:

Use a feed reader -- I use Sage which comes as an extension for Firefox browser. But I guess any feed reader (Bloglines, Google Reader) will work as well.

Use http://www.pkblogs.com/ -- this is a Pakistani website that came up when the Pakistan Government had blocked blogspot. This works fine but is a bit on the slower side.

Use http://www.shysurfer.com/ -- allows anonymous browsing and is quite fast.


iNFiNiteSaDNeSS said...

That's what I'd like to know too. I guess the next thing to go will be the RTA, 'cause, for all you know, the terrorists may try to get 'sensitive' information from the government officials, thus putting the country in grave danger.....

mandar talvekar said...

Hi Vinod,
I think the RTA has a provison which safeguards "sensitive" info. But yes i can see that someone in the govt might find terrorism to be a good excuse to stop RTA.

mandar talvekar said...

Sorry -- RTA should actually read RTI Act.