Citizens' Issues
Hamhanded blocking of 32 Websites

A Blot on Government’s Tech-savvy Image

 

India’s ham-handed bureaucracy gave us a sharp reminder about how much things have to change before government catches up with a rapidly changing world, when it ordered a blanket ban on 32 global sites on 31st December. Clearly, having a technology and social-media-savvy prime minister is not enough; it will take a long time before Narendra Modi can get government officials to move away from the ‘block, ban, censor’ (BBC) mindset, to use Modi-like acronyms. Last year, the UPA government had blocked 200 sites on a single day and had to backtrack hurriedly when it led to a huge uproar.

 

This time was no different. The 32 sites were blocked under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act. The ban was apparently based on inputs from security agencies that someone had uploaded ‘suspected ISIS’ content on them. Following the advisory, the government ordered Internet-service providers (ISPs) to ‘immediately block access’ to the sites.

 

The list, which has been widely circulated in the media, included GitHub, Archive.org, Imgur, Vimeo, Daily Motion, sourceforge and Pastebin. There was no statement from the government about why the sites were blocked even a day later. Instead, Arvind Gupta, national head of BJP’s IT cell, had tweeted that the sites were blocked for carrying ‘objectionable content’ and those who ‘cooperate and remove ISIS content will be unblocked’. An advisory from the anti-terrorism squad had said that the sites carried anti-India content from ISIS (Islamic States of Iraq and Syria). However, there is nothing to indicate that any of the sites was approached to remove specific content or that the blanket ban was triggered by their refusal to ‘cooperate’.

 

Clearly the information technology ministry and the security agencies need to work out a plan of action on how to deal with security threats and a protocol to ensure cooperation to remove or trace the source of objectionable content or block individual accounts and urls, when national security is threatened. While there is a clear consensus that tracking terrorist activity is a global imperative, it is not fair to expect websites, or their users, to operate under the threat of sudden blanket bank.

 

In a modern world, where users, especially registered users, are free to post content and reviews, the government’s drastic action poses a huge and financially damaging business risk. What is worse, a day later, there was no indication that the government understood the enormity of the damage it had caused by its action. TechCrunch, a technology blog, calls GitHub an essential service to the tech industry. It says that blocking GitHub, code repository with millions of registered users, would lead to an uproar in the tech industry in India, given its importance to tech companies and coders. If the government can ban GitHub or Vimeo, which is a video streaming site like YouTube, there is nothing to stop mindless government officials from issuing similar orders against global giants of the tech world.

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COMMENTS

B. Yerram Raju

2 years ago

While blocking en mass the cites is no indicator of transparency, we must admit that there are a number of sites that are causing injury to the information system. Policing the cyber crime has become a very tough task and terrorism has its roots deep in the hackers and money launderers thanks to the advanced facilitation of the IT Transparency need not be close to nudity. Destructive technologies have lately been taking seize of the productive efforts and it is the responsible society that should act as a watch dog and the regulator should be alert.

Nifty, Sensex headed lower – Tuesday closing report
Rallies will meet with selling 
 
In Monday’s closing report we had mentioned that Nifty and Sensex will head lower. The index opened with a big gap down and far from recovering was gripped by continuous bouts of selling. At around 10.00 am it reached 8,200 and traded closer to this level up to around 2.15 pm. The index then crashed further and in the last hour of the session gave up a further 73 points.
 
S&P BSE Sensex opened at 27,694 while S&P CNX Nifty opened at 8,325. The benchmarks hit their respective high at the same level at which they opened and moved lower to hit a low of 26,937 and 8,111. Sensex closed at 26,987 (down 855 points or 3.07%) while Nifty closed at 8,127 (down 251 points or 3.00%). NSE recorded a volume of 87.25 crore shares. India VIX rose 23.09% to close at 17.4200. Expect the market to head lower.
 
The Union Cabinet on Monday approved the proposal of the Department of Telecom to proceed with auction in 800, 900 & 1800 MHz bands. Total of 380.75 MHz in 800,900 & 1800 MHz is being put to auction.
 
Growth in India's service sector activity moderated last month, according to a survey from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics, released today. The seasonally adjusted HSBC India Services PMI Business Activity Index declined to 51.1 in December 2014, from 52.6 in November 2014. Both, activity and new orders in India's services sector expanded in December at lower rates compared as to November.
 
Oil prices sank to 5 and half year lows on Tuesday as worries over excess supply increased. With the slide in the price Moody’s says that it may force oil companies globally to lower their spending by up to 40% in 2015.
 
The year 2015 is likely to see lower rates to support growth and the Reserve Bank of India is expected to cut key policy rates by 0.25% in February's monetary policy review meet, says a Bank of America Merrill Lynch report.
 
Gujarat State Petronet (3.89%) was the top gainer in ‘A’ group on the BSE. The stock hit its 52-week high today. Jubilant Life (3.69%) was among the top two gainers in the group. It got ANDA final approval from the US FDA for Valsartan Tablets USP, 40 mg, 80 mg, 160 mg and 320 mg, the generic version of Diovan® (of Novartis), used as an anti-hypertensive. The current annualized US market size for Valsartan Tablets USP, 40 mg, 80 mg, 160 mg, and 320 mg as per IMS is USD 2 billion.
 
Dewan Housing Finance (6.80%) was among the top two losers in the ‘A’ group on the BSE. The stock hit its 52-week high yesterday.
 
Except for Hindustan Unilever (1.89%) all the other companies in the Sensex 30 pack ended in the red. ONGC (5.89%) was the top loser. Deutsche bank has upgraded Hindustan Unilever to 'buy' from 'hold' and also raised its target to Rs900 from Rs700. 
 
On Monday, US indices closed deeply in the red. The Fed will release minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting held on 16 and 17 December 2014 on Wednesday.
 
Except for Shanghai Composite (0.03%), all the other Asian indices closed in the red. Nikkei 225 (3.02%) was the top loser.
 
The HSBC China services purchasing managers index rose to 53.4 in December from 53.0 in November, HSBC Holdings PLC said today.
 
In Japan, the business activity index expanded at an accelerated pace in December, the latest survey from Markit Economics revealed today with a PMI score of 51.7, up from 50.6 in November.
 
European indices were showing mixed trading while US Futures are trading in the green. In Europe, uncertainties over the status of Greece including a possible exit from the Eurozone are likely to persist until the early election later this month.
 

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COMMENTS

SANDIP BISWAS

2 years ago

Get ready for the blood bath what happened in consecutive fall happened on 21/1/2008 and 22/1/2008. In consecutive days 1400 & 800 fall a total of 2200 fall. Crude price may drop upto 20$ per barrel as some news sources are available. Saudi will not reduce its production only to make further reduction so that shale companies can't make big profits

Cabinet approves mining ordinance

The Union Cabinet approved the eighth ordinance in the government's seven months

 

The Cabinet has approved yet another ordinance, this time regarding the sale of iron ore and mineral resources blocks through the auction route.
 
This ordinance would amend the existing Mining and Minerals Development Regulation Act. A draft of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) (Amendment) Act, 2014 had been circulated by the Ministry in December.
 
Facing an opposition that would not let the Rajya Sabha function, the government was unable to discuss the bill in the Rajya Sabha where it does not have majority.
 
Secretary General of industry body FIMI, RK Sharma was quoted by reports as saying, “The auction route on the basis of mineralisation instead of fully-explored resources, as recommended by the Hoda Committee, will lead to distortion of the whole process with serious consequences to the government and the buyer. Given the wild fluctuations in global prices, auction will also be viewed with suspicion and be labelled a scam like 2G and coal.”
 

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