(By Nikhil Pahwa & Vikas SN)
It appears that Care.org, the website of the non-profit organization fighting global poverty, has been blocked in India on at least two ISPs – Vodafone India (in Bangalore) and Spectranet. Below is a screenshot we took on a Vodafone connection in Bangalore, and the notice on the website reads:
As we’ve seen with earlier website blocks, there is no information as to why Care.org has been blocked, except for the ambiguous ‘This URL has been blocked as per DoT’s instructions” message on the site.
This website block is quite bizarre considering that Care.org is just a non-profit organization and we don’t see anything scandalous on the site. But we are reminded of similar website blocking incidents earlier. Remember that Department of Telecom had blocked access to a wedding photographers album on Facebook last month.
This incident highlights the lack of transparency from DoT when it comes to website blocking, with no procedure in place through which businesses or non-profit organizations like Care.org can get this block revoked.
Transparency in website blocking is important, since it will allow people to find out why a particular website or a webpage has been blocked, who has taken the decision to block it, and what is the process of getting the block removed (if I own the website). It will also ensure accountability on the government’s part for all the website blocking incidents in the country.
While we don’t approve of blocking any content on the Internet, since users have the option to receive and view what is being shared with them or just ignore any content. However, its possible that there might be instances where India’s Department of Telecom has to order ISPs to block access to specific webpages and websites on grounds of national security and public order*, or when it is ordered to do so by Courts. We had recently published a list of recommendations that we had submitted to the Indian Government on how we think they should deal with the blocks. Read them here.
Also, if you know of any other ISP which has blocked this website, do let us know in the comments below. Please mention your location and ISP, and add a screenshot of the block.
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– #IndiaBlocks – A Round-Up Of News On The Internet Blocks