Memepunks Banned in India!
As to why these sites are being censored, there are a few scattered reports, but precise details are scarce. We know for sure that the order came down for the India Department of Telecommunications, which all ISPs must obey or face the consequences. And the DoT typically gets its marching orders from The Computer Emergency Response Team of India (CERT-In). This is not an entirely new phenomenon, as CERT-IN and the DoT have blocked 100 or so websites over the past six years. But this is the first time have they blocked so many at once, and especially not whole blog domains like blogspot and typepad. When asked about the specifics fo the censorship, CERT-In director Dr. Gulshan Rai said "Somebody must have asked for some sites to be blocked. What is your problem?".
At first it was though that the censorship was done in response to the commotion that followed the horrific Mumbai train bombings . But it now seems more likely that the site blocking is in "an effort to curb the propagation of religious extremism on the Net". If this is just heavy handed policy aimed at stamping out Muslim extremist sentiment, the Indian government has missed the boat big time on this one. In fact one of the sites blocked was created just to provide relief for the Mumbai bombing victims, and now those in need of relief are reaching the site through a Pakistani proxy service. Irony, thy name is Internet. It's a good thing this "extremism" isn't circulating in the mail or over the phones, perhaps India would start shutting down whole calling and zip codes.
There is a flood of information on India's latest misstep bubbling up all over the internets. For a first stop I would recommend the Google groups Bloggers Collective. Or if Wiki is you preferred dish, hop over to the Censorship Wikia. I learned about this first via Boing Boing, and while I was typing this article, they posted an Update, which included a more detailed list of banned URLs. Struggle on citizens of India, there are ways around every firewall.
"The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it." John Gilmore (EFF)