Ban the Bomb - Oops, Make that Ban the Blog

Bloggers react to a brief ban on access to blogs instituted by India's ISPs at the behest of the country's government.

Last week, in the wake of the Mumbai train bombings, the government of India momentarily clamped down on more than a dozen Web sites apparently deemed dangerous to the country — and, in the process, inadvertently cut off access to myriad blogs.

“The country’s 153 Internet service providers (ISP) have blocked 17 Web sites since last week on federal government orders,” reported the BBC. “The government is not saying why it has banned each of the sites in its latest notification.”

“This has incensed bloggers in India, which has about 40,000 blog sites,” added the BBC.

By yesterday afternoon the ban had been lifted.

“The Indian government told the country’s Internet service providers to cease blocking popular sites full of Web logs after attempts to restrict access to the sites spurred protests from the online community,” reported the Wall Street Journal.

“The orders were issued without an explanation of why the sites needed to be blocked or how long they should be blocked,” added the Journal. “As a result, many service providers extended blanket blockades over sites popular for posting personal Web pages.”

In the meantime, the brief ban had bloggers on multiple continents fighting for their write to parry.

“This is sheer idiocy,” writes Michelle Malkin. “And it isn’t the first time India’s banned bloggers.”

“This is totally ridiculous,” writes IIMC Delhi. “They can’t stop bombings and killing of hundreds of innocent [people]. And by banning blogs, they are trying to curb terrorism? Shame on them.”

“Who would have thought that banning blogs would be the response to the Mumbai bombs?” wonders Robert Paterson. “As Scoble says, it is like banning the phone because terrorists use it … Can this happen in Canada and in the U.S.?”

“Wondering how democracy is murdered in INDIA??” asks Ashwin’s ThinkTank. “Most of the blogs were blocked by the ISP’s after a government order banned certain blogs on July 18. Freedom of Expression?? Who cares about the constitution??”

But not everyone was equally outraged.

“There has been a lot of hue and cry about the Indian government’s decision to block certain ‘objectionable’ Web sites and blogs,” writes General Gyan. “Well, I feel, the government is justified in blocking certain sites which might incite religious violence in India. After all, this is being done to ensure that no more people die because of riots, which become a dark possibility after any massive terror attack.”

In the meantime, other bloggers were left with a momentary sense of appreciation.

“I was watching the BBC news and apparently India has banned some blogging sites without giving the public a cause for their actions,” observes Memoirs of a Gaysian. “I think we are very lucky here in America that something as trivial as blogs are protected as part of our right to free speech.”

Lucky, indeed.

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Felix Gillette writes about the media for The New York Observer.