India tops the list of countries that are censoring content on the Internet for its citizen. According to the findings of a report, it is not only blocking URLs [a website address/link] pertaining to porn and piracy but also that of Indian and foreign non-governmental organisations (NGOs), human rights groups, feminist groups.
The latest revelation by The Indian Express along with University of Toronto-based Citizen Lab, and Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) shows that India tops the list of websites blocked and filtered by telecom operators. The Citizen Lab conducted its study on countries where technologies marketed by Canadian company Netsweeper “appear to be filtering content for national-level, consumer-facing ISPs”.
It was found that India tops the list with 42 of these installations by 12 Internet Service Providers (ISPs), and is followed by Pakistan with 20 installations. These are findings of the testing period that was between August 2017 and April 2018.
Of the 2,464 URLs blocked, 1,158 alone were blocked in India. According to the Express, some of the websites and pages found to be blocked during the testing period included fordfound.org, cseindia.org, awaaz.org and iromsharmilachanu.wordpress.com.
Several media webpages were also blocked in the country. Most of these dated back to 2012 and include the likes of ABC News, Al Jazeera and others. It also included the censoring on content “related to Rohingya refugee issue, and the death of Muslims in Burma and India more generally.”
Importantly, telecom operators such as Bharti Airtel, Hathway, Reliance Jio, Tata Communications, BSNL’s National Internet Backbone and others were among those using the Netsweeper’s filtering system in India. These telecom operators cater to 60 per cent of India’s Internet users. According to the Express, many of these operators responded that they do not block websites unless there is a government or court order to do so.