. . . . . . "Dalit Solidarity News" is an information project run by the International Dalit Solidarity Network. News stories are extracts from online newsservices. Link to the full story is found at the end of each blog. Visit the International Dalit Solidarity Network at www.idsn.org

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Formed in 2000, the IDSN is a network of international organisations, national solidarity networks and affected country groups, campaigning against caste-based discrimination throughout the world, from the dalits of South Asia to the Osu of Nigeria and the Burakumin of Japan. Visit our website International Dalit Solidarity Network for more information. SUBMIT DALIT NEWS HERE

Wednesday, July 19, 2006  

Exposingtheleft.blog is dangerous

The Indian Express, By Pragya Singh
July 19 2006

NEW DELHI, JULY 18:Clearly, the government has a lot to handle since the seven serial blasts in Mumbai last Tuesday. Banning America’s anti-Left website ExposingTheLeft.Blogspot.Com is a start.

Viewed through www.pkblogs.com, a website that helps you bypass the official Indian ban (its home page invites you if your blog is blocked in India, Pakistan, Iran or China), ExposingTheLeft.Blogspot.Com makes only one reference to Mumbai, which is: ‘‘At least 131 killed in India train bombings: More humanitarian acts from the ‘Religion of Peace’.’’
This may be offensive and so could the rest of this website—but largely for anti-Bush voters in the United States as it tracks domestic politics, takes several swipes at Iran, applauds a court ruling against same-sex marriages, and slams the Hizbollah. It has little to do with what Comrade Prakash Karat was thinking about or doing on 7/11.

ExposingTheLeft’s editors are aware of India’s gag order and their new post is: “Well, it’s not a fatwa but I suppose it will have to do.’’ Government officials today defended their action against the three blogspot.com sites and eight other websites they have ordered Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block from Indian viewers. Several Department of Telecom officials, contacted through the day, declined to comment. An official in charge of cybersecurity said: “Google should take the initiative to block sites that are offensive to us. If it doesn’t, we have to take such action.”

All banned blogs are being hosted on a website that Google owns. The websites are hosted both in India and abroad, which complicates matters, since bloggers are being forced out of their blogs because of the ban. ‘‘There are ways to bypass the ban which makes it ineffectual, but there’s another complication, it’s not easy for India to block blogs selectively if they are not hosted here,’’ says Supreme Court lawyer Pavan Duggal.

[...] Mypetjava.mu.nu, another site in the gag order, is still up and running but Hinduhumanrights.com/hindufocus.html is gone as is Dalitstan.org, which the world outside India can see refers to ‘‘Brahmin Indira Gandhi’’ and other personalities who have been ‘‘at war’’ with India’s Dalits. RahulYadav.com, viewed through a search engine, displays aspirations to ‘‘liberate’’ Kashmiri Hindus, and is gone too.

Several experts pointed out that India was not alone in trying cyberspace censorship but India’s position is slightly muddled by the fact that the Information Technology Act, 2000, is silent on blogs or blogging. Officials in the Ministry of Information Technology cite a July 14, 2003 gazette notification that gives the government rights to restrict access to the Internet.
The notification lists five parameters that can allow blocking of websites, which include threats to sovereignty, security of the country, friendly relations with another nation, public order or to prevent a cognizable offense.

Link to the article

9:18 AM

Indian Government Blocks Web Access
- Action Mirrors That of China

Washington Post
By Eric Bellman and Peter Wonacott, The Wall Street Journal
19 July 2006

BOMBAY -- India's Internet regulators have started blocking several Web sites, following the lead of China, where government censors heavily restrict the flow of online information.
India's department of telecommunications sent an order late last week to Internet service providers to block several Web sites, according to a department spokesman. The spokesman, Rajesh Malhotra, declined to disclose the contents of the letter or discuss the order, saying it was a "confidential exchange of information between the department and the operators."

Several telecom operators confirmed that they were directed to block more than 15 Web sites. Close to a third of those are home to blogs, or personalized Web logs, such as Blogger.com and Geocities.com. Included on a list seen by the Wall Street Journal are sites that showcase views of an Islamic holy man; conservative Hindus; and dalits, the low caste in India pejoratively referred to as untouchables.

The government blacklist follows the July 11 commuter-train bombings in Bombay, which killed an estimated 207 people. It isn't clear whether the move was related to the blasts, in which Indian officials suspect militants in neighboring Pakistan.

India, the world's most populous democracy, has generally eschewed efforts to block citizens from obtaining information or from expressing their views. But following the Bombay bombings, the government has come under renewed pressure to toughen its policing of potential security threats and improve intelligence gathering.

Creators of some of the Web sites said they were confused as to why their work had been singled out. Rajneesh Rallan, a Bombay lubricants manufacturer, said he could not get to his personal site on Blogger.com, and his friends and family with blogs on the same site were also being blocked from his site. His site extols the benefits of synthetic lubricants and introduces his favorite European movies and directors. "There is nothing dangerous on my site," Rallan said, adding that his mother's personal site on Blogger.com was blocked, too.

A spokeswoman for Google Inc., which owns Blogger.com, said, "We are currently looking into the situation to determine whether, and why, this has taken place." A spokeswoman for Yahoo Inc., which owns Geocities.com, also said the company was looking into the matter.
India's restrictions echo those made by other governments that have viewed the freedom of online information as a possible threat to their security.

In China, for instance, authorities have been trying to tame the Internet almost since its arrival. The techniques used to police and censor material have become increasingly sophisticated, as have efforts by Chinese Internet users to circumvent government controls. One common tactic is to tap overseas computers, thereby circumventing Chinese government blockades.
The cat-and-mouse contest has pulled in some U.S. Internet companies, which have been criticized for cooperating with the Chinese government.

Google launched a Chinese-language search engine that omits links the government does not like. Yahoo created an uproar by providing information on a Chinese account holder who was later jailed. And Microsoft Corp. shut down a Chinese-language blog that had criticized the Chinese government's media controls.

Although the Chinese government blocks some Web sites that it thinks pose a security concern, such as those from the rival government of Taiwan and those affiliated with the banned spiritual group Falun Gong, it also restricts access to sites not affiliated with any political agenda. In the past, Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, has been blocked. In June, the Google search engine was inaccessible from most Chinese provinces, according to a statement from Reporters Without Borders, a press-freedom group.

Indian authorities have had run-ins with U.S. Internet giants, too. In 2004, Avnish Bajaj, the chief executive of Baazee.com, eBay Inc.'s Indian subsidiary, was arrested after one customer used the site to sell a pornographic video clip without the knowledge of the company. Bajaj was later released.
Wonacott reported from New Delhi. Binny Sabharwal contributed to this report.

Link to the article

9:09 AM

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