And the Same Messgae for Geocities from Spectranet ISP on Monday July 17, 2006
I am regularly updating this post adding new stuff at the end. Please scroll down for updates.
I tried reading my usual quota of blogs (11.45 am, India) from the side bar and all the blogger sites are giving error. ‘XXXX.blogspot.com could not be found. Please check the name and try again.’ Replace the stars with any blog you know of and you might get this error message if you are in India. I thought there must be some problem with blogger. Then I searched the web. And this is the discussion I found on ‘blogger-help’ google group.
Gaurav wrote: > Hi,
> I am not able to see my blog: > http://home-business-secrets.blogspot.com/ and I cannot see any other > blog either. There is no notification of this from Blogger either. I am > able to log in to my account and see the dashboard and see all the > other stuff. But for some reason I am not able to view any blogs. Is > anyone else experiencing the same problem? Please let me know.
Gaurav, Your blog looks fine to me – both FF and IE. Where are you located? Nitecruzr, Northern California USA (I copied this information from his ‘view profile’ page)
I asked a few people who are from India and were available on Google chat that if they were facing the same problem? People in India that I contacted are facing it. Now I know I am speculating but it makes me very very irritated to think that our government might be playing some hanky panky with blog sites? The other possibility is that Blogger messed it up only in India? I would love it if it is the second possibility but I think there is a very slim chance of that. I can only hope that there is an innocent explanation to it.
Update 1: A friend in Noida says he can access blogspot sites (Airtel Broadband), so maybe some ISP service providers are facing a problem?
Update 2: A friend from Mumbai (Sify ISP) too can access. I can’t make any sense of this one. Why me?
Update 3: More from Google groups:
When I type the url http://blogspot.com/ that shows this message Site BLOCKED !!!! But I can Open the http://www.blogger.com/home I Can create blog but when i click to view blog it shows 502 Bad Gateway The following error occurred: [code=DNS_HOST_NOT_FOUND] The host name was not found during the DNS lookup. Contact your system administrator if the problem is not found by retrying the URL. Could not open error file Also I can see other blog but not mine blogs….the above message appears I tried the same and I got the same message, site blocked.
Update 4: I contacted the Spectranet callcenter and this is big, they confirmed that they have blocked the site because they have a letter from Ministry of communication! I wish I had heard it worng. Call your ISP providers that are blocking it and check it out for yourself.
Update 5: I once again called Spectranet customer care. They are more guarded now. They said we will not block any site unless there is a govt directive. So next question was “So is there a govt directive?” To which the executive took me into a loop. What is my institute name etc. etc. finally saying they cannot find my institute account. I dropped the call finally saying if it is too uncomfortable for you I will drop my question. Anyone desiring to ring the call centre can do so at 011 41612277.
Update 6: The most plausible explanation doing rounds is that maybe the govt. just wanted to block a few ‘blogspot’ sites and in the process the entire domain got blocked! This might be true and maybe by Monday things will be back to normal.
Update 7 (edit: July16, 2006): Abi calls up the Spectranet call centre and is given the same explanation.
… I called up the Spectranet’s Call Centre in Delhi, and their agent told me that the Ministry of Communications had indeed sent a letter asking them to block the blogspot.com sites. He was unaware of the reasons behind this move.
Update 8: Back to office on Monday, still unable to view *.blogspot.com and *.typepad.com at Spectranet
Update 9: Please join bloggers collective (
publicmoderated google group) for more discussion on the same. Shivam has been calling up various people and trying to find out more. More discussion on bloggers collective. Peter has setup a Wiki that is tracing which ISPs in India are facing the problem.
Update 10 (Shameless rip from Neha 1): The following people are a good place to get started off to get through the Indian Government Maze. One person who is accountable to you is Dr. Gulshan Rai (Exec Director). His phone numbers as listed by the government website are (Office: 91 -11-24363081), (Residence: 91-11-22323085) and his email is email@example.com
More phone numbers for the Department of IT can be found here.
If you want to seek information under the Right to Information, Shri BB Bahl is the Public Information Officer for Department of IT. Here is a very comprehensive guide to finding out more about blogs through the Right to Information Act. It even has a draft letter that you can send off. (End of shameless rip from Neha 1)
Update 11 (edit: July 17, 2006): Shivam has been calling people left, right and centre (more power to him, and us bloggers) and has given an account of various interactions. Brings a lot more clarity to the issue.
Update 12: Amit cannot access blogspot and geocities from Airtel now. Looks like Airtel has joined in. Can more people confirm this, I will myself do so once I reach home. My home connection is Airtel. (I cannot access .blogspot domain now from my home ISP Airtel)
Update 13: OK, I called Airtel asking help once again with mumbaihelp.blogspot.com (though I have not yet reached home, still thought no harm in ltrying) and the Airtel person confirmed that they cannot open mumbaihelp.blogspot.com at their end too. They had no idea why it was happening.
Update 14: Has it spread to Sify?? A friend says she
was able to open .blogspot.com domain on Sify ISP in the morning but now is getting ‘time out’ message. Anyone else having
problems at Sify? Time for another call centre to get busy?
Update 15: Any Other ISP having problem? Please leave a comment. Also give a call to your call centres if you are gaving a problem.
Shameless Rip from Neha again (2):
List of ISPs that are blocking Blogspot.com. Some of them are also blocking Typepad.com and Geocities.com
The conversation that The Great Indian Mutiny has with a call centre rep is hilarious:
There is a crack down in place. IP numbers are being physically located and identified. All should come back to normal once this operation is over. There is no ban in place. Livejournal and WordPress have been spared. No reason given.
Now I know you are not going to believe this, so I’m going to quote what she said, “This operation is limited to certain parts of India. Bloggers in Andaman, Nicobar and Lakhsadeep islands are not affected.” I thought she was joking but I didn’t hear the reciprocal laughter from the other end of the phone line.
Two wikis are tracking the issue. List of ISPs that seem to have blocked blogger, if your ISP is not there add to the list.
Update 18: (July 19, 2006) Nandan files an RTI (Right to Information) application and shares his experience:
I filed my application at the Azad Nagar Post Office in Andheri (W). The only difficulty I had was explaining to the people behind the counter what RTI was. You see, certain Post Offices are designated as APIO (Assistant Public Information Officers), and the Superintendent in each of these offices is well aware of this. However, the common staff may not be.
So if you’re going to one of these designated post offices, and the staff is more puzzled than a Polar Bear during Holi, ask to speak to someone in the Superintendent’s office.
Once I went to that office, it was a breeze. They’re super helpful the moment you mention RTI.
You can see a scanned version of the list here and the letterhead does spells Ministry of Communication and Information Technology. After all, the Spectranet call centre kid was right!
Update 20 (July 19, 2006): Now that it is well known that Indian government did want to ban particular sites I would like to say a big thank you to Abi for calling up Spectranet ISP call centre and confirming what people thought I had assumed. In the beginning, mine was such a lonely voice, even though I knew very well that in spite of not being tech-savy, I can hear alright and that I heard it right the very first time when the Spectranet ISP call centre guy told me they were blocking http://blogspot.com because of ‘a letter from ministry of communication’ on Saturday 15, 2006. But then, it was such a bizare statement in a country like ours that I can understand the disbelief.
Update 21: (July 20, 2006) Messages are trickling in that people can access blogspot domain on certain ISPs but others say they cannot. I for sure at 12.30 noon, cannot access .blogspot domain from Spectranet.
My take on the entire issue? Well Shivam said it much better than I can ever say it.
How many sites did the govt want blocked?
18. (17 it seems, parenthesis mine)
Was the govt right in this request?
How many sites did ISPs block?
Hundreds of thousands.
Who’s to blame for our inconvenience?
Who’s to blame for censorship?
DoT, CERT-IN, the IT Act – the powers that be.Update 21: Press Information Bureau Release: DOT Orders Internet Service Providers to Block Only the Specified Webpages/Websites
Update 22: Games call centres play
Ravi writes at Bloggers Collective (the link in this update will take you there):
No change in the blockage.
Airtel (Bangalore – though i believe all airtel customer calls are
attended in NOIDA ) has been giving me the run around from today
They seem to be unaware (or pretend to be unaware) that DOT has issued
an order asking them to unblock blogspot. Every time I tell them that
DOT has asked them to unblock the sites they say something like “Our
team leader has gone out. He will call you back when he gets back” etc.
If any of you are in bangalore, do call up/ mail airtel (and try to get
a “confirmation number” so you don’t have to repeat yourself everyt
time you call). Do let them know that people using SIFY (for e.g.) can
access the sites right now. That puts a stop to the “The government
ordered a block last week” explanation.
Reading out http://pib.nic.in/release/release.asp?relid=18954 to them
I can understand his frustration. So it seems that the ban is lifting in pockets. But the larger issue remains: why try to censor the internet? In a way I am thankful to the bumbling ISPs who blocked the entire domains rather than particular sites, so that we all became aware of the issue.
Update 23: Blogspot domain on my ISP Spectranet is back. I discovered this around 5.00 pm on July 21, 2006. And I guess it is a matter of time before the other two domain get back too. Smaller issue resolved. Larger issue remains. Why block sites when those blocks can be easily foiled by alomst anyone, even the non-tech savy me!
I will be travelling over the weekend (remember this is a travel blog, primarily, though the few readers I have often question me why I call this blog Travel Tales from India) and will be able to update stuff only on Monday. Though I think there may not be much to update now in the short run.
Screen Shots (edit: Saturday 15, 2006) with Spectranet ISP (and I checked with my System Admn. he has not blocked blogspot sites, my institute is blog friendly)