A bid by a private institution to scrub clean the Web of all critical opinion against it and a backdoor censorship facilitated by the Department of Telecommunications has stroked the rage of several prominent commentators on social networks Twitter and Facebook.
For the second day in running Sunday, the hashtag #IIPM was trending on Twitter across the Indian Twitterverse with several persons with good online traction keeping alive the content that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) through an order dated February 14 called for removal through the Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
While the Web blockade, which the DoT said was effected based on the directive of a Gwalior High Court, managed to remove the URLs mentioned in the petitioner’s application, those fighting the censorship began a cat and a mouse game online mirroring the content across various new web addresses and resources like Pastebin and Bitly, which offer cacheing of content and bookmarks.
Nikhil Pahwa of Medianama website, which was the first to post the PDF document of DoT calling for the blockade, said the most disturbing aspect of the development was how even direct reportage of facts were being termed as defamatory. The DoT had effected the censorship without informing the content owners or even transparently declaring that the changes were being called for. The website sourced the DoT order “unofficially”.
There was already some PR spin from IIPM over the breakout of the news on social networks. Tweets from the official IIPM Think tank – @ArindamIIPM – posted a response on Saturday, in which Arindam Chauduri, while stating that the web blockade issue was subjudice, accused the UGC and the AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) of being corrupt and that IIPM was proud to have no affiliations with them.
The back and forth strategy of IIPM is being questioned by several bloggers, who say that the company has been waging proxy wars against all critical opinion since the year 2005. It has gotten content of several bloggers removed.
“What they are doing now is nothing new,” says Mahesh Murthy, founder and CEO of digital advertising firm Pinstorm, whose curated list of articles on IIPM from various media sources on url shortening and bookmarking service Bitly was among tho sites to be taken down. “They have been targeting people critical of them on the Web for several years now. While these urls are not going to be accessible only to users who access the Internet through Indian ISPs falling under DoT, those from abroad will still be able to see these links.”