ISPs black out entire Geocities Web site, say they do not have capability to provide limited access

Thomas K Thomas

New Delhi, July 21

Two pages from the Geocities online community and another site have been added to the list of banned sites by the Department of Telecom (DoT), taking the total number of blocked Web pages to 20.

ISPs have said that that they have no option but to shut down the entire Geocities.com site as they did not have the capability to provide limited access.

The ISPs have told the DoT that they cannot restrict the ban only to a single page wherever it is an extension of a sub-domain.

In other words, if the blocked Web page has a `slash' in the address, then the entire Web site will be blocked. For instance, while the DoT has asked the ISPs to block the pages geocities.com/cpmjpwg and geocities.com/cp_mjpwg/ home. html, ISPs have blocked the entire Geocities.com site.

The third site that has been added to the list of blocked sites is www.sex.in. On July 13, the DoT had sent a list of 17 Web pages to be blocked.

Web sites such as blogspot.com, a popular blogging site, were also hit by the ban.

While ISPs said that the ban on blogspot.com has been taken off with the exception of the four pages mentioned in the DoT list, the blogging community could not access the Web site.

The DoT had sent a show-cause notice asking ISPs to limit the ban to only the listed Web pages.

It also asked them to explain why action should not be taken for blocking unintended sites.

Internet operators said that this was not the first time that the Government had sought a ban on Web sites and the operators have co-operated in the past.

"We are facing difficulty in restricting the ban to the specified Web pages in some cases; otherwise, we have no intention of acting against the interest of the user or the Government. We hereby reiterate that if the directions are to block a specific URL containing an extension (/), it is impractical to block only the specific Web site/Web page linked to such extension names, and in such cases, the ISPs would have to perforce block the whole Web site," said the Internet Service Providers Association of India.

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(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated July 22, 2006)
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