The Indian government has angered citizens of India with the fresh blocking of more than 30 websites that they claim are promoting “jihadi” activities. Sites blocked initially included many well known websites that are accessed worldwide such as video streaming site Vimeo and Github amongst others.
The internet in India has become more restricted over the years with the Indian government attempting to control what is accessible and also how Indian users access internet services. One of the most interesting cases is the relationship between India and the payment processor Paypal that requires the disclosing of Indian users activities to crack down on tax evasion, while most countries monitor such activity, Indian users of the service were forced to have automatic daily withdrawals, no doubt to ensure that funds were accessible to be viewed in bank accounts rather than being held with Paypal themselves.
The latest development in website blocking has been carried out by India’s Department of Telecoms with the reasoning being that they are blocking sites that promote “jihadi activities”.
The main issue behind the blocks is that sites that host user generated content such as video and discussion outlets found themselves falling fowl of the Indian stipulations. While sites such as Vimeo, Dailymotion and others do comply with removal request against content that would promote terrorism, the scale of the task requires time to achieve. One of the issues raised by the Indian authorities was that the sites in question did not require authentication in the sense that users could upload content in an anonymous manner.
While the reasoning behind the blocks are commendable with The Indian Ministry for Communication and Information Technology stating “It was stated that Anti National group are using social media for mentoring Indian youths to join the Jihadi activities.” the manner in which the blocks have been carried out have been seen as extreme by Indian internet users.
Of the 32 sites blocked, 4 popular sites, namely Vimeo, Daily Motion, Github and Weebly have apparently complied with requests of the Indian government and already been unblocked while other high profile sites such as code sharing site Pastebin remain inaccessible from within India. The 4 sites that are now unblocked are still causing access issues for many users with plenty of reports that they are still inaccessible for some users.
Although site blocking is becoming more prevalent in a range of countries the knee jerk reaction type blocking is what concerns most users. Video streaming Vimeo who found itself on the block list stated that they had not received any communications from Indian authorities before the blocks regarding the videos which they claim are related to “Jihadi activities”, a Vimeo spokeswoman stated “We have not received notice from the Indian government concerning such videos and have contacted them requesting the blocking order to identify, and evaluate the video in question.”
As the world becomes more restricted in an internet sense, India is featuring highly in comparison to some other countries and is likely to see further sites blocked without warning. Indian users are now increasingly encouraged to make use of a VPN (Virtual Private Network) service to access sites that they find are blocked. By making use of a VPN Indian users can circumvent such restrictions and access any sites that may be blocked inside India.
A VPN is a system that encrypts your internet usage on your device and passes that data through a secure tunnel to a server either inside or outside your country. By accessing a server outside of India it will be impossible for the Indian authorities to monitor your internet connection and block sites that you wish to visit. In the instance of the 32 sites that have recently been blocked, Indian users would be able to access them without issue.
Our VPN Comparison Guide lists some of the best VPN providers available and should be considered for all internet users in India.