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Who ordered Vimeo to be blocked? Not DoT, says RTI reply #censorship

Deutsch: Logo des Videoportals Vimeo

Published: Wednesday, Jun 13, 2012, 11:18 IST
By Subir Ghosh | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA

The ire of hacktivist group Anonymous that was directed at the government over blocking of sites like .com and Pirate Bay may not have been justified – the ban on these sites, in fact, was not ordered by the Department of Telecommunications.

In response to a RTI query made by the Delhi-based Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC), the department replied, “As per available information no blocking instruction to block websites like Pirate-bay and Vimeo etc. has been issued by the Department of Telecommunications to Internet Service Providers (sic).”
The revelation by the department assumes significance since most of the anger of groups like Anonymous had been directed against it, particularly over these two sites.

On June 9, countrywide protests were organised by Anonymous. Dressed in black and wearing Guy Fawkes masks, about 100 people staged a demonstration at the city’s Azad Maidan in protest against the Union government’s internet policies. The Indian wing of the group was created in the backdrop of the recent outrage over the IT Act Intermediaries Rules and blocking of sites.

SFLC itself does not want to hazard a guess on who ordered the blocks, but falls back on reports to conjecture that these might have been carried out by ISPs to comply with interim injunctions styled as John Doe orders issued by the Chennai High Court in response to a suit filed by producers of the Tamil film ‘3’, arguably better known for its chartbuster ‘Kolaveri’.

SFLC counsel Prasanth Sugathan said it did not matter so much who had handed out the orders. “It is the issues raised that are important. One should not lose sight of core issues (that of internet freedom),” he said. SFLC, among other things, works towards protecting digital freedoms.

Vimeo.com, and a other sites continue to be blocked across many ISPs for over a month now. According to SFLC, the error message shown on trying to access the blocked sites on the Airtel network was, “This website/URL has been blocked until further notice either pursuant to Court orders or on the Directions issued by the Department of Tellecommunciations

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