Indirect Censorship: Reliance Communication Heading The Crusade As Per Governments Diktat

Hundreds of users connecting to the Internet through Reliance’s internet gateway (Reliance broadband), found themselves unable to access file-sharing websites. Reliance has come forth saying the Government of India made them do it.

The ISP Reliance Communication has blocked many popular websites like: Megaupload and Filesonic. People trying to access these are greeted with a “This site has been blocked“, & the insult continues, with a line saying that the message has been “copyrighted” by Reliance Entertainment! The method may be a small step to curb piracy, but, it ironically violates the law itself as the authority to block websites in India rests only with Department of Information and Technology (DIT) and even if a court has ordered blocking of a website, the procedure has to be initiated by DIT officials.

Though Government’s pal Reliance is sheltering itself “Under Section 79 of the IT Act”, it’s agenda is to stop the rampant piracy of movies of which DON 2 is also a victim. RCom has obtained a a specific order called as “John Doe” from Delhi high court to protect Don 2 from online piracy & claim that the methodology justifies the requirement. Interestingly, Section 79 does not talk about blocking of websites, it merely deals with liability of intermediaries like internet service providers such as Reliance.

We ask, why doesn’t Reliance make an appeal to the sites?

Sites have known to take note & comply. Blocking access to an entire site to curb piracy is plain wrong. Such sites do host important files & students have known to use these file-sharing websites to exchange notes, photos etc.  Pranesh Prakash, a senior official with Centre for Internet and Society and an expert of cyber law agrees with our views & says, “It is like shutting down a public library just because some one may go there and leave a book about bomb making”. Reliance is notorious in temporarily blocking sites & had done the same at the time of Singham’s & Bodyguard’s launch.

We wonder, if Reliance Broadband has blocked the sites, can’t users simply use another ISP to download? What do you think?

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