The government of India has blocked, Jihadology.net, an online academic repository run by researcher Aaron Y Zelin which curates new primary source material from global jihadis. (hat tip Praveen Swami).
The website keeps tabs on how jihad groups are organizing in countries which were part of the Arab Spring. Zelin also researches primary source materials from Western jihadists and networks, including documents in Arabic. Zelin also created a a detailed library of all jihadist plots against the West since the mid-1990s and the key individuals behind them.
Visitors to the website are shown the following message:
A variation of the message on You Broadband:
The Islamic State In Syria’s (ISIS) is increasingly using online resources to lure potential recruits. One of the more memorable examples of this was the arrest of Mehdi Masroor Biswas, a 24-year-old engineer from Bangalore who was running a pro-ISIS Twitter account @ShamiWitness to spread propaganda related to the terrorist organization.
That said, the government is currently blocking an important resource for academics to study propaganda from the Islamic State which help in setting a counter-narrative to the group’s hate.
On a side bar, Gizmodo points out that Google is showing anti-terrorism links for people who are looking for extremist content.
Other blocks by government citing terror
Earlier in January 2015, the department of telecommunications ordered the blocking 32 websites, which includes software code repositories such as Github and Sourceforge, for allegedly posting pro-ISIS messages on them. Later that week, the government initiated action to unblock four websites after they said that they will not allow posting of Jihadi propaganda and also work with the government to remove such material.
Lack of transparency
Right now there is absolutely no transparency from the DoT on how websites can be blocked and courts frequently issue John Doe orders to block file sharing websites. For example, in July 2014 the Delhi High Court issued a John Doe order to block 472 sites, including Google Docs, after a complaint by Multi Screen Media, the Sony owned media company that broadcast the FIFA World Cup live in India.
Necessary requirements for blocking
Ideally, blocking should be an exception, and not the norm that it has become. Even if blocks are instituted, here’s how it should be done. Visitors to a blocked website should be informed about:
1. The fact that the website has been blocked
2. Who has asked for the site to be blocked
3. Who has issued an order for the site to be blocked
4. Why the website has been blocked
5. How a block can be removed
6. A link with a public listing of blocks