Nachiket 'therapist' Mhatre, Jul 21, 2011 1757 hrs IST
RapidShare, Megaupload and others blocked by the Department of Telecom.
Update: Apparently, Reliance BIG Pictures is behind this fiasco. The ADAG subsidiary obtained a cease and desist order from the Delhi High Court to prevent the piracy of its upcoming movie Singham. The scope includes cable operators and CD \ DVD pirates, while also expanding to cover the internet. Reliance then served notices to all ISPs, requiring them ensure the prevention of piracy of the film through their networks. The ISPs seem to have played safe and issued a blanket ban on filesharing websites altogether.
Last night, many Indian internet users were shocked to find their favourite filesharing websites banned. Members of the India Broadband Forum reported that visiting popular websites such as Megaupload, RapidShare, MediaFire, DepositFiles, and many others served up a static page saying that the "site has been blocked as per instructions from the Department of Telecom". This ban was reported by subscribers of major ISPs, including Reliance, MTNL, and Airtel.
There has been no official announcement from either the ISPs or the Department of Telecom (DoT) on the ban. I encountered the same static page with MTNL and Airtel when I tried accessing the filesharing websites earlier in the day. Interestingly, various filesharing portals have been banned and unbanned intermittently since last night across different ISPs. As of this writing, I found both MTNL and Airtel to have lifted the ban. However, there is no saying if and when then ban will recur.
Although users can bypass the ban with proxies (by enabling Opera Turbo in the Opera browser, for example), it's still ridiculous for the DoT to infringe upon users' rights. Forums are abuzz with various conspiracy theories, including one that cites Bollywood lobbying for the ban under the pretext of piracy. Whatever may the the excuse, the government has no business banning an entire service altogether just because it's being misused by some. This is just as daft as deploying thermonuclear warheads to cure polio. Hopefully, these websites will continue to remain operational.