Internet service provider Airtel had blocked the Blogspot domain on fixed line and mobile Internet connections in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune and Chennai from Sunday to midnight yesterday. The domain has also been blocked by MTNL's Trump 3G service in Mumbai. WordPress.com and Blogspot have been intermittently inaccessible from Vodafone 2G and 3G in Mumbai for a few months now, the earliest instance of which we noticed in August. At the time of writing this, WordPress has been blocked on Vodafone mobile networks but the mobile version of Blogspot is working fine in Mumbai.
Screenshot of Blogspot.com blocked in Bengaluru as on Sunday on an Airtel fixed line connection
Trying to access Blogspot.com on Airtel networks in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune, and Chennai displayed the message, “This website has been blocked until further notice either pursuant to Court orders or on the Directions issued by the Department of Telecommunications”. However, Blogspot.in, Blogger.com and Blogger Mobile – different versions of the blogging platform – were still accessible, indicating that the block was applied only the blogspot.com URL.
Visiting free WordPress blogs or user accounts on Vodafone leads to a generic error message, “cannot establish a connection to <blog URL>”. The two blogging platforms, Blogspot and WordPress, have stayed sporadically inaccessible for weeks on end on Vodafone 2G and 3G networks since a few months in Mumbai. Users are able to log in to the WordPress account using the default WordPress app or a mobile browser, but cannot write new posts, edit earlier ones and view and moderate comments left on their blogs. Other portions of the dashboard such as the web statistics are visible; the functionality to post or edit has been disabled selectively. Reportedly, BSNL has blocked the Blogspot domain in Jaipur since April this year. The domains, and the blogs hosted on them, are accessible via proxies and VPNs, pointing to an ISP-level block.
Vodafone's customer care service in Mumbai has denied the occurrences of the blocks every time they were reported. Representatives from Vodafone and Airtel maintain that no blanket block has been applied, and are investigating the blockade. Airtel has indicated that this unexpected block could be the result of a technical glitch. Tech2 has reports and screenshots of the error messages generated after visiting these blocked blogging platforms on various ISPs across different cities in India.
Screenshots of WordPress.com dashboard on Vodafone 2G connection showing generic error messages
Late in August, Tech2 had reported a blanket block placed on the free WordPress domain (WordPress.com) by Sify and the Tata Photon (CDMA broadband) service of Tata Teleservices. The move was apparently a result of government orders to block around 309 URLs carrying disruptive or inflammatory content. The all-inclusive block contravened the directives issued by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to ISPs between August 18 and 21 stated that only the URLs mentioned be blocked, not entire domains. The block was lifted after over a week. No reason was cited by Tata Teleservices for placing the block. At around the same time, Airtel had temporarily blocked Youtu.be URLs citing orders by the court “or” the DoT. It is clear from these instances that over the past few months, ISPs have haphazardly placed and removed blocks on Blogspot and WordPress.
If you are facing an ISP-level block, please let us know in the comments. Do mention your ISP, location, and type of connection (mobile or wired).
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