Below is a copy of a Right To Information request that MediaNama has filed today, following the order to block 245 websites, and the orders to ban SMS‘. While we are not necessarily in favor of the blocking of content on the web, and particularly worried about the way in which the Indian government blocks websites, the least we expect from a democratic government which should uphold free speech is for it to be transparent and offer recourse: there should be a public repository of web pages blocked, citizens need to be told why a particular page has been blocked. Someone whose site has been blocked needs to have the ability to get the block removed, preferably a process as simple as that of blocking. It is essential to include these in the (proposed) revised IT Rules 2012.

Please feel free to use the RTI below as a reference for drafting your own, in case you have additional questions to ask of the government. In case you need any additional help in filing an RTI, please feel free to contact me at nikhil@medianama.com

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To,

The Public Information Officer,
Office of PIO (RTI)
Room No 1016, Electronics Niketan
Department of Information Technology (DIT)
Ministry of Communications and Information Technology
6, CGO Complex, New Delhi

Subject: Information on websites which have blocked

Dear Sir,
We request information on the following under the Right to Information Act, 2005:

1. List of websites/webpages with URLs for each, for which orders have been issued for blocking to access service providers (ISP, CMTS, UAS Licensees) in the year 2012.

2. List of websites/webpages with URLs for each, for which orders have been issued for blocking to other intermediaries, including but not limited to Facebook, Google, Twitter, Google+ and Orkut in the year 2012.

3. Copies of all notices issued issued for blocking of websites/webpages/URLs to access service providers (ISP, CMTS, UAS Licensees) in the year 2012. Please provide us with the information you are authorized to release, and in case there is information that you cannot release, please forward this RTI and question to the relevant authority.

4. Copies of all notices issued issued for blocking of websites/webpages/URLs to other intermediaries, including but not limited to Facebook, Google, Twitter, Google+ and Orkut in the year 2012. Please provide us with the information you are authorized to release, and in case there is information that you cannot release, please forward this RTI and question to the relevant authority.

5. Copies of all notices and advisory issued to intermediaries, including but not limited to Facebook, Google, Twitter, Google+, Orkut, and ISP’s, CMTS, UAS Licensees on 18th August 2012, 19th August 2012 and 20th August 2012, under section 69A of the Information Technology Act 2000, following reports of exodus of people from the North East from other cities. Some of this information is mentioned in the press release on 20th August 2012 (Release ID 86355), with the title “Government Blocks 245 web Pages for Inflamatory Content hosting of Provocative and Harmful Content Being Monitored Continiously”
http://pib.nic.in/newsite/erelease.aspx?relid=86355

Please provide us with the information you are authorized to release, and in case there is information that you cannot release, please forward this RTI and question to the relevant authority.

6. Which intermediaries were contacted by the government, and directed to block content. I request you to provide a list of names and the number of deemed offensive content items per intermediary/social networking site. Please provide us with the information you are authorized to release, and in case there is information that you cannot release, please forward this RTI and question to the relevant authority.

7. Copies of all notices issued to Access Service Providers (UAS and CMTS Licensees) regarding restrictions on SMS and MMS issued during the year 2012. Please provide us with the information you are authorized to release, and in case there is information that you cannot release, please forward this RTI and question to the relevant authority.

If possible, I would prefer a digital copy (in xls, doc or PDF format) either on CD or emailed to nikhil@medianama.com.

I’m willing to bear the expenses for the same.

1. Full Name of the Applicant: Nikhil Pahwa

2. Address of the Applicant:
E-mail Address: nikhil@medianama.com
Mailing Address: Nikhil Pahwa, 20 A Rajpur Road, Civil Lines,Delhi-110054

4. Years to which the above requests pertain: 2012

5. Designation and Address of the PIO from whom the information is required:

The Public Information Officer,
Office of PIO (RTI)
Room No 1016, Electronics Niketan
Department of Information Technology (DIT)
Ministry of Communications and Information Technology
6, CGO Complex, New Delhi

To the best of my belief, the details sought for fall within your authority. Further, as provided under section 6(3) of the Right to Information Act (“RTI Act”), in case this application does not fall within your authority, I request you to transfer the same in the designated time (5 days) to the concerned authority and inform me of the same immediately.
To the best of my knowledge the information sought does not fall within the restrictions contained in section 8 and 9 of the RTI Act, and any provision protecting such information in any other law for the time being in force is inapplicable due to section 22 of the RTI Act.

Please provide me this information in electronic form, via the e-mail address provided above.

 

This to certify that I, Nikhil Pahwa, am a citizen of India.
Date: August 21, 2012
Place: Delhi

 

(Nikhil Pahwa)
Nikhil Pahwa, 20 A Rajpur Road, Civil Lines, Delhi-110054