Time over for 'Operation Timed Out', much to a blogger's relief. A quick rewind: Post July 11 blasts in Mumbai, the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the country were asked to block specified website/webpages on the parent website, but in their over-zealousness and for the sake of convenience, the ISPs ended up blocking the entire blogging website. This action drew bloggers’ ire as popular sites like blogspot.com and typepad.com became inaccessible.
Uncalled for service
An ISP source, on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the ISP Association was asked only to block certain sites. Meanwhile, clearing its stand on the issue, a government source added, “The erring ISPs have been asked to explain their action.” Cyber law expert Pavan Duggal says, “By blocking the legitimate content, the ISPs have exposed themselves to civil liabilities, besides being subject to investiga tion by government agencies. Under the provisions as outlined in the Article 19 of the Constitution which mentions certain “reasonable restrictions” over freedom of expression, the government has its way out of this mess.” However, bloggers are a happy lot. While few sites are still black listed, others are now easily accessible.
But is cyberpolicing a solution to tackle cyber terrorism? Certainly not. “It is an attack on free speech which is the heart of democracy and I deplore it,” says Amit Verma, whose blog was blocked. Agrees Dug gal, “Terrorists and cyber criminals will not wait for the authorities to block the sites. The government will have to find effective means to deal with cyber terrorism.” More so, a terrorist will never use an open way of communication. “They can resort to more sophisticated technologies like steganography — the art of writing hidden messages in such a way that no one other than the intended recipient knows of its existence,” he adds. Terror mongers can even resort to drafting coded messages on websites, which would be accessible to others even without sending an e-mail.
And with such sophisticated methods available for the techsavvy terrorist, blocking blog sites is no solution. Tackling cyber terrorism demands tougher and stringent government action.
(with inputs from Vidhi Bhargava)