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Update: Internet Archive contacted Indian govt regarding the block, but got no response

Update 2: Chris Butler, Office Manager at the Internet Archive, responding to a query from MediaNama, saying that their attempts to contact the Indian Department of Telecom (DoT) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) but their queries have been left unanswered. The response in full:

1. We have not been contacted by the Government of India regarding this apparent blocking of archive.org (as was the case when we were previously blocked as part of a group of sites in late 2014/early 2015). We have no information about why a block would have been implemented.

2. Multiple attempts to contact the DoT and MeitY (DeitY was the agency that ultimately ended up responding to us regarding the previous block) have gone unanswered thus far (we first tried to reach out to them about 22 hours ago).

Obviously, we are disappointed and concerned by this situation and are very eager to understand why it’s happening and see full access restored to archive.org. If you happen to obtain more information about the reason for the block or would be able to suggest any specific contacts with the government that it might be helpful for us to approach, we would be extremely grateful.

Update 1:

1. We checked, and on Airtel Delhi (mobile), archive.org is also blocked.
2. Some users are saying that archive.org is not blocked when they try the link themselves. Here’s what is possibly happening: http://web.archive.org is blocked, but https://web.archive.org is not. I noticed that on mobile, Chrome redirects to https, but Firefox doesn’t. It’s possible that the order for specifically for the http:// link, and not https:// link. Thus, the difference in reactions.
3. We’ve updated this post below with more ISPs, based on inputs received on Twitter. Obviously, we aren’t able to independently verify this.

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Earlier today: In what is an inexplicable instance of censorship, India appears to have blocked access to the Internet Archive (also known as the Internet Wayback Machine). The block seems to be new, and is currently propagating. We checked, and on visiting web.archive.org via Airtel (Delhi, mobile) and MTNL (Delhi, wireline) connections, we’re getting the following boilerplate blocking message:

“Your requested URL has been blocked as per the directions received from the Department of Telecommunications, Government of India. Please contact administrator for more information.”

MediaNama has reached out to the Internet Archive for comment.

On MTNL (Delhi): At times the site works, and at times it shows a typical blocking message. Perhaps the block hasn’t been implemented fully yet.

On Airtel (Delhi): the site is blocked, and there’s an Airtel ad being shown.

Update: users on Twitter have suggested that the site is blocked on Airtel vfiber in Noida, Airtel Broadband in Bangalore, Tikona Mumbai, BSNL FTTH in Pune, Connect Broadband in Mohali, Hathway Mumbai, Airtel Broadband Gurgaon, Airtel 4G Odisha, BSNL Trichy, MTNL Mumbai, BSNL Hyderabad, BSNL Trivandrum, Jio Chennai, among others.

The Internet Wayback Machine is among the most important sites on the Internet: it’s a non profit which has been archiving the web for over 20 years now. As of October 2016, it had archived over 510 billion time-stamped web objects, including 273 billion webpages from over 361 million websites, taking up 15 petabytes of storage.The site allows users to archive web pages, access archived webpages for free, and also hosts a large amount of free content, including music which is out of copyright, movies, videos, software etc. According to Wikipedia, it hosts “nearly three million public-domain books.”

Note that several UIDAI related documents, which have been otherwise removed from their website, are accessible on the Internet Archive.

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A series of tweets from Anand Venkatanarayanan pointing toward UIDAI documents archived at the Internet Archive here.

How you can help:

  • We’re trying to get a copy of the blocking order, so if you have it, please do email me at nikhil@medianama.com.
  • Leave a comment with details of your ISP, City and whether you’re accessing via Internet or mobile Internet, and whether the link is working for you. The link for the Internet Archive: here.

On India and Blocking

As I’d mentioned in 2013, we need more transparency from the government of India when it comes to blocks. In this instance, we know that a site has been blocked, and who has ordered the block, but there are two aspects missing: why has the website been blocked, and what is the recourse for getting the block removed: there is not email address or phone number mentioned for the administrator. We won’t even know whether the block is because of a court order, or is it a ministry decision. There is clear lack of transparency from both the government of India, which does not publish a list of blocked pages, nor is the ISP clarifying any of these concerns.

Lack of transparency leads to lack of trust. Transparency will ensure accountability from government and ISPs.

Also read: I don’t know.

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Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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