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Mouthshut.com and the battle for free speech

Open has a detailed piece on the travails of Mouthshut.com, the online review site, as it deals with companies which want negative reviews taken down.

24 foreign TV channels flagged by IB for anti-India content

According to the MEA, there are 90 TV channels of foreign origin which are being down-linked into India legally. There are apparently many which have not sought the necessary permissions to do so including 24 which have been deemed by the Intelligence Bureau to be "anti-national". Most of these are down-linked and broadcast via cable TV in India's border states.

Anonymous Phase 2: RTI Crowdsourcing

After the low key response to the June 9 protests, Anonymous India has labelled it only "Phase 1" of their plans and have announced "Phase 2". The second phase has been dubbed "Operation RTI" and appears to be an elaborate recce to unearth information related to Internet censorship in the country. The plan is to get "citizens of India" to file RTI applications pertaining to any communications between government officials and companies such as Google and Facebook.

.. and you thought we had it bad: Chinese censorship

In light of the recent blocking of websites in India and the cries of "CENSORSHIP!" all across Twitter, spare a thought for our Chinese neighbours who have long been suffering beneath the cudgels of the Great Firewall of China.

All ISPs forced to jump on the censorship bandwagon

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:

Accessing websites using e-mail

Accessing the Internet via e-mail is primary a service provided to users who have limited access to the Internet. With net penetration increasing all the time, the use of such a service has been in the decline for a number of years. However, considering the fact that censorship is functionally a limitation of Internet access to the end user, these services can be availed of to our benefit.

Internet access via e-mail can be used from any e-mail address. To retrieve a webpage (e.g. quillem.com/censorship, send an e-mail to an address listed below with the associated subject and / or body.

Defeating censorship

This page exists as a result of this story.

This document is a work in progress:

Common techniques used to defeat censors:

  1. Using proxies: Proxies act as middlemen between you and the website that has been blocked. They can be used to retrieve the page on your behalf, thereby bypassing the censor. There are various kinds of proxies out there. The proxy guide has more information.
  2. Using web caches: Search engines, proxy caches and archive sites quite frequently save copies of websites on their servers which can be retrieved in lieu of a censored site.

DoT derides ISP on censorship issue

The Economic Times confirms that the DoT has ordered ISPs to only block the blogs in question rather than entire domains or IP addresses.

DoT has also issued a show cause notice to ISPs following pressure from the government. “The DoT has further sought explanation from the erring ISPs as to why action be not taken against them for blocking unintended websites and webpages,” a government notice on the issue said.

Accessing blocked websites using page caches

This page exists because of this story.

Protecting your privacy and defeating censorship using proxies

After the public exhibition of gross incompetence by the Indian government and ISPs alike, it is in everybody's interest to know how to bypass these ridiculous blanket bans.

The following is a general guide that will ideally allow you to visit said blocked sites. If you have any questions or comments, please use the fora.

It is recommended that you use Firefox to follow any steps outlined below. However, it should be reasonably straightforward to adapt them to other browsers as well.

What is a proxy?

A proxy (server) to put it simply, acts like a middleman and retrieves web pages on your behalf. For e.g. since the GOI and incompetent techs at ISPs all over India have decided to block blogs like mumbaihelp on blogspot, instead of asking your browser to retrieve the mumbaihelp page, you can ask your browser to ask the middleman (proxy) to get it for you. So, for all essential purposes, you are only accessing the middleman (who has not been censored) and not mumbaihelp.

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