A new report has surfaced on the internet indicating that telecommunication companies and Internet Service providers in India have banned a number of websites as part of the recent attempt to ban porn on the internet. This comes as no surprise as the company tried to do this back in 2015 but that is surprising is that the companies have blocked a number of websites that are not associated with the porn ban. Instead, some of the websites being affected are rather popular and useful to internet users. According to a new list by Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), a New Delhi based organization made a list of complaints about telecom operators blocking websites and services that had nothing to do with internet porn menace.
According to the list and separate report by Quartz India, it appears that Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel are blocking VPN (Virtual Private Network) and proxy websites, the official website for messaging platform Telegram, and audio-streaming website SoundCloud. This is in addition to the usual torrent websites and other websites that are actually responsible for internet porn. The list includes more than 130 complaints that IFF crowd-sourced after taking a look at similar reports last month.
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Out of the more than 130 complaints in about 2 weeks, about 85 came from users using Reliance Jio, more than 40 came from Airtel users. The list included internet service providers including ACT Fibernet, BSNL, Vodafone India, and Hathway. The findings by IFF indicated that complaints ranged from “major metropolitan cities” to “smaller towns” such as Siliguri, Mindapur, and Udupi indicating that such a ban may be across the country.
The report by Quartz India indicated that blocking websites that don’t have anything to do with the actual ruling or problem is against internet net neutrality. BGR India confirmed the block on SoundCloud while trying to access on a Reliance Jio connection in Mumbai. While trying to access both the websites, similar to the report, we saw a message stating “**YOU ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO ACCESS THIS WEB PAGE AS PER THE DOT COMPLIANCE**”
The report also indicated that DoT stated that the information about Jio blocking Telegram website “is not available” with the central public information officer in response to an RTI query. We have reached out to Reliance Jio and Airtel for statement and will update the copy as and when they issue a response.