Arbitrary blocking of websites by Indian ISPs continues unabated #WhatTheBlock

Donate to help sustain our work

Tl;dr

Railtel's broadband service Railwire seems to be arbitrarily blocking access to the internet forum Reddit and the search engine DuckDuckGo. After Railwire subscribers sent us repeated reports on SaveTheInternet.in and also tagged us on social media we wrote to them today asking them to remove these blocks and follow the license conditions for ISPs.

Access blocked!

Over the last three months, multiple reports about Railtel have been lodged on our net neutrality violation tracker over at SaveTheInternet.in. These reports indicated that Railwire, Railtel's retail broadband service, had been blocking access to Reddit and DuckDuckGo. Such incidents had also been reported in July with regards to other Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

These instances conform to observations of a larger study, published by the Centre for Internet and Society, in which researchers found that the website blocklists of licensed ISPs across India are widely inconsistent with one another. This suggests a larger pattern wherein internet providers are arbitrarily blocking access to particular sites/content without the backing of a legal order.

The legal basis for such blocks is unclear. The Unified License for ISPs states that licensees may block internet sites only when acting under a legal order. However, no reason has been provided to demonstrate why the sites above fulfil such criteria. Furthermore, as per the Anuradha Bhasin Judgement of the Hon'ble Supreme Court that mandated that publicly displaying all orders restrict people's access to the internet, no such orders for Reddit or DuckDuckGo are available.

A continuing commitment

Do you notice any blocked websites without a clear legal basis? As a user or reader we encourage you to file reports of wider website blocks across ISPs by using the reporting tool over at SaveTheInternet.in. We promise to keep you updated and follow up with Railtel.

Important Documents

  1. Letter dated 21.12.2020 to Railtel for the Blocking of Reddit and DuckDuckGo (link)
  2. Blocking of DuckDuckGo and links to our previous work against website blocking (link).