THE LATEST attempt by the department of telecom to block access to 17 websites on grounds of national security has gone spectacularly wrong.
First, it has ended up blocking not 17 but thousands of sites or weblogs (or blogs) hosted by popular hosting services like Google's Blogspot and Yahoo's Geocities. Second, the ban has been effected in a manner that can be skirted with ease. So anyone who wants to access them can still do so. Also, some bloggers in Delhi and Mumbai are now planning to invoke the Right to Information Act to clear some of the haze that the matter is behind right now. For their part, the government officials responsible for implementing the order are washing their hands off the brouhaha the action has caused.
Dr Gulshan Rai, director of the Computer Emergency Response Team, the apex organisation under the IT Ministry responsible for the nation's cyber-security, told HT: "There's no attempt to block www.blogspot.com from our side. The order issued by the DoT has four blogs hosted on Blogspot.com. The order didn't ask the whole site to be banned."
Then why isn't any Blogspot site opening on most computers? The answer lies in the way our internet service providers -- like Tata, Airtel, Sify and Reliance -- have implemented the order.
"Indian ISPs don't have the technology to block individual name servers -- say a particular blog hosted on Blogspot. So they had no choice but to block the root servers of major blogging networks -- blogspot, geocities and typepad," said a senior official in the IT Ministry. A senior official from an ISP confirmed this.
Sarbajit Roy, a cyber-law expert, said: "This block is a mindless exercise and shows that our bureaucrats don't understand technology at all."