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DoT Blocks Sites Criticising IIPM – Live Updates


We reported on a DoT order to block 73 URLs related to IIPM, an MBA college, yesterday, almost all of which were critical of the university. This is a key development, and has significant implications for freedom of expression. we’re going to build some context around these developments here, and also update you on follow up reportage from us and external sources over the next few weeks. We’ve received several requests for a copy of the court order, on the basis of which these blocks were ordered. If you have a copy of the court order, please share it with us at nikhil@medianama.com.

Feb 28


Feb 21

Update: The Economic Times talks about how cyber laws can be misused by influential persons to secure a blanket ban on online content.

Feb 20th

Update: Mahesh Murthy had published IIPM Financials from the Registrar of Companies on Twitter. He contends that Chaudhari filed a DMCA notification to have his tweet taken down:

 

The DMCA Takedown Notice:

 

Feb 19th

Update 26: This is why we love the Internet. Memes. Here’s one starring Shivam Vij of Kafila and Arindam Chaudhari of IIPM (and”Please criticize me, make cartoons of me.”) fame. Enjoy.

Update 25: Smart, crowd-pleasing move this – Outlook reports that the Indian government will appeal against the Gwalior court order. The Gwalior court order, it appears is now reaching mythical status – no one has a copy, everyone is asking for it, and no one knows where to get it from. Maybe the Department of Electronics and Information Technology can publish a copy of it…since they’re the only ones that we know have actually received a copy.

Update 24: FirstPost asks why the Gwalior Court was in a hurry to block the URLs. No one has a copy of the Gwalior court order, though.

Update 23: On Feb 14th, another order to block websites was issued by the Department of Telecom, this time, for blocking pages on Facebook related to Afzal Guru, who India hanged on Feb 9th 2013. This story was reported last night by Outlook. We’ve transcribed the URLs here for you to check and tell us if they work for you with your ISP. If there are any other orders from DoT for blocking of websites, please contact us with the information.

This is now no longer an #IIPMBlocks liveblog…it’s an #IndiaBlocks liveblog.

Feb 18th

Update 22: How should India approach blocking of websites? Our recommendations for the Department of Telecom here. Note: we don’t support blocking of websites.

Update 21: An excellent set of questions from NewsX being posed to Chaudhari, who makes important statements in this interview, such as “If you think they’re not defamatory, please go and contest” and “Please criticize me, make cartoons of me.”

Update 20: We missed this earlier…Faking News has published a satirical piece, with a list of people that the DoT has allowed to criticise online. Read it here.

Update 19:
In a report below (2min 40s), the CNN-IBN journalist says that “he’s definitely sure that the Government was a party to the defamation suit”, and that the Government should contest this order, saying that this is not a proper course of action. That’s a living-under-a-rock statement…fat chance of that happening.

Feb 17th

Update 18: The Center for Internet and Society has published its own assessment of the blocked URLs, sans repetition. Note that while a few links were repeated, some URLs appeared to be be repitative, but werent – one URL pointed towards the news article, another towards the comments segment of the same news report. In our charts below, we’ve included the repeated links.

The report also points out that instead of blocking a specific blog post, in case of http://iipmexposed.blogspot.in, DoT has blocked the entire blog.

Update 17: IIPM websites appear to be working fine now. Yesterday, Anonymous India took down several IIPM sites, before calling ceasefire on the attack.

 

Update 16: The satirists strike back: Faking News has republished its IIPM articles here. The Unreal Times has made fun of the current situation, poking fun at Kapil Sibal. (updates via Kafila)

A friendly word of advise to future-blockers-to-be: acquaint yourself with The Streisand Effect, and think of possible solutions when faced with the fury of the Interwebs. It’s probably easier getting out of the Chakravyuh.

Update 15: Following a TV debate, Chaudhari told Shivam Vij of Kafila that an IIPM Channel Partner had got the court order, and that he himself hadn’t seen the list of URLs before the order was obtained. Apparently, Chaudhari apologies for the press release on Kafila being blocked, said that a press release should not be blocked, and would ask the court to get the Kafila page unblocked, as well as satire sites and URLs that do not contain defamatory text. IIPM has been asked to become a party to the case. More at Kafila.

Feb 16th

Update 15: Maheshwar Peri, publisher of Careers360, has told Mint that they might explore a contempt case.

Update 14: It appears that Anonymous India has taken down IIPM’s website iipm.in

Note that IIPM.edu is up and appears to be running just fine.

Update 13: IIPM has issued an official response via Arindam Chauhuri’s twitter account. We’ve posted a copy of it here.

Update 12: When were most of these now-blocked URLs (or news reports and blog spots) created? A MediaNama analysis below. Most of the URLs were created in 2011, but surprisingly, as many as 17 URLs blocked were created in 2005:

iipm-blocks-data-2

Update 11: What are the types of URLs Blocked. MediaNama did an analysis, and it appears that mostly news sites and blogs are blocked. Nine URLs listed are related to satire.

iipm-blocks-data

Update 10: FirstPost has an overview of news coverage of the IIPM Blocks here.

Update 9: The blocks are being implemented. Some screenshots of links blocked (on MTNL) –

Faking News

iipm-blocks-faking-news

 

The Indian Express

iipm-blocks-indian-express

 

MensXP

iipm-blocks-mensxp

Akosha

iipm-blocks-akosha

Update 8: The Internet Democracy Project has provided excellent historical context on the blocks, here.

Update 7: FirstPost has a response from Arindam Chaudhari. Some key points to note –

Choudhuri says that he never moved court against satirical sites (Faking News and UnrealTimes), saying “In a democracy, satire is basic freedom of speech. However, I am glad that defamatory links with malicious interests have been ordered to be removed.”

The official response from IIPM (check FirstPost for the entire response) states that the Court had asked Google to remove the links, and because it failed to comply, “the Hon’ble Court asked ICERT to block the those defamatory URLs till further orders…”

Update 6: At Kafila, Shivam Vij has published the blocked article again, as has the Caravan. Note that a specific link was blocked.

Update 5: While the order specifies specific Outlook blog posts, it appears that the entire Outlook Blogs domain has been blocked.

Update 4: We’ve got multiple requests for copies of the court order. In case you have a copy, please send it across to nikhil@medianama.com

Update 3: Shashi Tharoor has asked the DoT to remove the block on the UGC website. Our take: it is unlikely that this will happen because it’s a court order.

Update 2: CERT-IN’s Gulshan Rai has said that blocks have been implemented on the basis of an order issued by a Court in Gwalior, according to a report from Livemint.

Update 1:
As Apar Gupta rightly points out on Twitter, this could be due to a court order, especially since it’s a UGC link that has been blocked.