India Blocks Blog Sites

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Angry Indian Internet users and the country’s main software trade group urged the government Wednesday to reopen access to blogging Web sites that were blocked after a series of bombs ripped through Mumbai’s commuter rail network.

The government, trying to shut down blogs from various political and religious extremes, ended up blocking all access to a number of blogging Web sites, including the popular www.blogspot.com, technology experts said.

The blogs were blocked in an attempt to stop an outbreak in communal violence after the blasts.

“However, the Indian Internet service providers don’t have the technological wherewithal to block specific blogs on a blogging site. Consequently, they ended up blocking the entire site,” said technology expert Pawan Duggal.

Government officials could not be reached for comment, but Gulshan Rai, director of the state-run Computer Emergency Response Team of the Information Technology Ministry, said the order issued by the government targeted four blogs hosted on www.blogspot.com.

“There’s no attempt to block www.blogspot.com from our side,” the Hindustan Times quoted him as saying.

On Wednesday morning, however, it was still difficult to access blogs on that Web site from India.

Kiran Karnick, president of the National Association of Software and Services Companies, the country’s main information technology trade group, said his organization would take up the matter with the government.

“It is neither desirable nor possible to impose censorship on the Net,” Karnick said.

Angry Indian Internet users exchanged mails and flooded message boards with postings to report that blogs could not be opened.

Experts, however, said that users could still access many blogs by connecting to them through third-party Web sites that the government had not blocked.

Sarabjit Roy, a cyber law expert, said blocking Web sites was a mindless exercise.

“It shows that our bureaucrats don’t understand technology at all,” he said.

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