Sunday, 23 July 2006

Mousetrap - 63

Over the last week, the press, including the newspaper you’re reading, gave the blog ban issue a lot of prominence. As of this writing, our government has admitted only to ordering some sites blocked, but has issued no explanations. All ISPs have not yet restored access to Blogspot, Typepad (both free blog providers) and Geocities (a free home page service) URLs. So, this week, a slightly different column.

First, without any of the usual attempts at witty commentary, the list of sites that the DoT allegedly ordered banned in India. It has been widely circulated online, and is even available on the back of a T-shirt you can buy via a web retailer. The front of the shirts says “I’ve been banned in India and all I got was more web traffic. Thank you India!”

Why am I giving you URLs that you can’t view in India? Well, here are a few useful sites you can access, so you can make up your own mind on whether these are dangerous to see.

Bloggers Against Censorship wiki
Information about the ban, the ISPs that implemented it, the list above, a long list of ways to bypass the ban, links to media coverage and bloggers’ protests, tips on the Right To Information Act, and more. You owe it to yourself to visit this site. Now. Before some bureaucrat decides you need to be protected from it.

Bloggers Collective
A newsgroup run by a group of bloggers. Get an insider’s view of the events of the week, from the initial alarm bells, to the vociferous arguments and bickering, to the strategies, to the yells of triumph, to―well, the group is still active, and growing. Subscribe to get email updates or join in on the conversation.

PKblogs and INblogs
PKblogs was created by Pakistani geeks (Pakistan’s Top Level Domain or TLD is .pk, hence the name) to bypass their own government’s blog ban following the Danish cartoons controversy a few months ago. Indian readers accustomed to tut-tutting about clampdowns across the border wound up using a tool created by Pakistanis to combat censorship by our own allegedly democratic government. The irony. And INblogs (named for India’s .in TLD) is a gift by the same techies to bloggers in India. Blogs and borders? Phoeey!

More next week. Unless, of course, there’s a block on this column too.

Reader suggestions welcome, and will be acknowledged. Go to for past columns, and to comment, or mail The writer blogs at

Published in the Times of India, Mumbai edition, 23rd July, 2006.

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