In Europe it’s becoming increasingly common for file-sharing sites to be blocked at the behest of rightsholders, but over in India it’s the government ordering blockades.
In an order issued last month, India’s Department of Telecom (DOT) ordered a total of 39 websites to be blocked at the ISP level.
According to reports the blocked sites are mainly web forums used to share adult content, but image and file-hosts were also banned.
In a show of just how far the government is prepared to go, the Adf.ly service has also been censored.
The DOT sent a letter to ISPs informing them of the need to block the sites but gave no reason.
“It has been decided to immediately block the access to the following URLs… you are accordingly directed to immediately block the access to above URLs,” the notice read.
Critics say the government has cast its net too wide and is now affecting the businesses of legitimate websites not directly connected with adult material.
“In the case of file hosts and image hosts, which people use for various purposes including for storing personal files, the DoT order is a clear overreach,” said Sunil Abraham, director of the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS).
“Even in the case of pornography, there is nothing in the IT Act that can be used to block websites hosted outside in India.”
A DNAIndia report, which claims that the blockade was introduced following a complaint from Indore-based advocate Kamlesh Vaswani, shows that the Indian government’s order to ISPs lacks transparency.
“Kindly do not mention the name of URLs in the compliance letter,” the Department of Telecom wrote.