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All ISPs forced to jump on the censorship bandwagon

Submitted by Karthik on 17 May, 2012 - 14:18

Since the beginning of this month, certain ISPs have been blocking access to streaming video and torrent sites on their networks. As of today, just about every ISP in the country is reported to be blocking the following sites:

* confirmed sites are those that have been tested locally and ... confirmed to be blocked. It appears that sites have not been consistently blocked by all ISPs. In fact, some ISPs have not consistently blocked sites across different circles within their own networks.

Accessing blocked sites result in an Access denied or Page not Found along with a message stating that the site has been "blocked as per instructions by the DoT" (in some cases) or "blocked as per court order" (in others). It appears that a Chennai-based company named Copyright Labs has approached the Madras High Court to obtain this court order in order to limit piracy of an upcoming Telugu film named Dhammu and the Tamil film 3.

Medianama is covering this story diligently and also provides some pertinent background information. More coverage can been followed here, here, here and here.

This site provides some general information on how to get around censorship.

Update: As I type this, tweets have been coming in on the websites of the Supreme Court and the Congress party becoming inaccessible. The story is that this is a retaliation by Anonymous [Wikipedia]. The "collective" also plans to target the DoT.

Update 2: A copy of the court order signed on the 29th of March, 2012, is now in circulation. There is no explicit reference to the sites that are to be blocked; it appears to be completely generic.

Update 3: A day later, it now appears to have dwindled into a blame game. Experts opine that if the company misled the court, then it would be liable for damages. On the other hand, if the ISPs chose to block entire websites rather than individual URLs, then they would be too. Copyright Labs maintain that they provided the ISPs with a list of specific URLs that were to be blocked. They also state that ISPs took 40 days to implement the blocks and that in many ways it is already too late.