by Hatim Kantawalla
The Internet as we know it is dying. I’m not being sensationalist or overreacting to the recent round of Internet censorship orders. If you have followed this issue closely over the last year or so, you will know all too well that governments across the world are getting desperate to regulate, censor, and restrict its free and open nature.
The way things are going in India, I’m beginning to feel that we are actually way past the tipping point. We are in fact racing down a well-greased slippery slope of Internet censorship, towards a completely locked-down and stiffly regulated version of it.
Keep tabs on that list of blocked websites, because it’s only going to get longer from here on.
Soon enough we’ll reminisce fondly about once having unhindered, open access to the Web, a glorious two-decade-long era that was free from government and ISP intervention. Our current classification is ‘Country Under Surveillance’, and it won’t be surprising if we are lumped into the ‘Enemy of the Internet’ group pretty soon.
Join the Anonymous Protest
Please do join the peaceful protest that is being planned on June 9 by the popular hacktivist group Anonymous. Support on the Facebook event pages for each city is growing, and can further strengthen if we decide to give this issue the time and attention that it deserves. The group plans to take the protest to several cities in the country, which include Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Indore, among others.
You will also find working download links to all the tools and software you need to circumvent the blocks on the group’s official blog page–I’d stick to these three: HotSpot Shield, Hide My IP and Free VPN.
So far the FB protest pages and the Anonymous blog page haven’t been blocked or brought down.
Blocking access never works
Don’t get too worked up about this clampdown though, just sit back and enjoy the tamasha that will make many of these blocked sites, especially the file sharing variety, bigger than they have ever been. Such is the nature of the Internet, that denying access to parts of it is technically near impossible. Of course, you can put many hurdles in the way, but those who are determined enough will and do get through. As a very recent example, the UK government ordered ISPs to block The Pirate Bay. Guess what happened immediately after? Traffic to the site was up by 12 million unique visitors the day after the block was announced.
We can only imagine the traffic boosts that The Pirate Bay, Vimeo, and others are currently experiencing from millions of new and curious users in India. Many blocked sites are already being optimized to work with proxies, and the proliferation of bypass software is growing at a rapid rate. Even someone with no experience with proxies or VPNs will figure out, within a few clicks, what it takes to access such sites.
In fact one very positive side effect of such blocking is that we will very soon have millions of casual Internet users who are familiar with the perfectly legal use of bypass software and proxy addresses.
Hatim Kantawalla is Editor, Tech2.com and Chip