Pando

India blocks access to Github, Dailymotion and other websites to silence ISIS

By Nathaniel Mott , written on December 31, 2014

From The News Desk

India's government has ordered Internet service providers to block access to Github, Dailymotion, Pastebin, and other websites, according to a report from Quartz India.

The order is said to have been motivated by the so-called Islamic State, which is thought to have been using the blocked services to spread its message, according to a tweet from the head of the information technology cell at the Bharatiya Janata Party.

"The websites that have been blocked were based on an advisory by Anti Terrorism Squad, and were carrying Anti India content from ISIS," the leader, Arvind Gupta, said. "The sites that have removed objectionable content and/or cooperated with the on going investigations, are being unblocked," he added in a followup Twitter post.

India is but the latest of several countries which have blocked access to some sites -- or the Internet as a whole -- to silence extremist groups. Iraq did the same in June to squelch civilian support for the Islamic State as it made its way towards Baghdad.

The seeming rise in these crackdowns over the last year represents a fundamental problem for the Internet. As I explained when Iraq's crackdown was first revealed:

The ease with which these countries are able to prevent their citizens from accessing what is supposed to be a global resource facilitating the free exchange of information shows that there is a problem with the way the Internet is currently structured. Cables can be cut, ISPs can be shut down, and citizens can be separated from the rest of the world based on nothing more than the government’s whims.
And they are truly based on little more than a government's desires, as showcased by Turkey's social media crackdown in March, or Thailand's decision to block access to Facebook in May. Both were motivated entirely by their governments' self-interest.

Now India has joined the list of countries which have blocked access to entire sites just to silence extremist thinkers or prevent the truth from reaching their citizens. It might be the last country to do so in 2014 -- I wonder who will ring in the new year.

[illustration by Brad Jonas]