Thursday 21 July 2011

India Bans Popular Filesharing Websites

Many internet users were shocked to find their favourite filesharing websites banned. Members of the India Broadband Forum reported that visiting popular websites such as Megaupload, RapidShare, MediaFire, DepositFiles, and many others served up a static page saying that the "site has been blocked as per instructions from the Department of Telecom". This ban was reported by subscribers of major ISPs such as Reliance, MTNL, and Airtel.

There has been no official announcement from either the ISPs or the Department of Telecom (DoT) on the ban. Interestingly, various filesharing portals have been banned and unbanned intermittently since last night across different ISPs. As of publishing this article, I found both MTNL and Airtel to have lifted the ban. However, there is no saying if and when then ban will recur.

Although the users could bypass the ban with proxies (Opera Turbo for example), it's still ridiculous for the DoT to infringe upon users rights without any prior notice. Forums are abuzz with various conspiracy theories, which includes one that cites Bollywood lobbying for the ban under the pretence of piracy. Whatever may the the excuse, the government has no business banning an entire service altogether, just because it's being misused by some. This is especially true when its responsibility lies in enforcing the law and not culling entire platforms to prevent abuse. Hopefully, these websites will continue to remain operational, as they are at the time of publishing.

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