The Indian government has blocked more than two dozen major websites, saying they’re being used for Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS) propaganda.
Most of the sites allow user-submitted content and are globally popular. They include the Internet Archive and Pastebin, a favorite of hackers worldwide because it allows users to anonymously post plain text.
Deputy National Security Advisor Arvind Gupta said he’d been warned from India’s special Anti-Terrorism Squad that they’d found Islamic State-related content on the sites.
The websites that have been blocked were based on an advisory by Anti Terrorism Squad, and were carrying Anti India content from ISIS. 1/2— Arvind Gupta (@buzzindelhi) December 31, 2014
In a confidential letter leaked online, India reportedly warned 32 websites that they faced an immediate block on Dec. 17, though that warning didn’t make it explicitly clear what the sites needed to do to achieve “compliance,” nor did it mention the Islamic State or terrorism.
Four sites, including video hosting sites Vimeo and DailyMotion, have since been restored, Gupta tweeted Thursday.
The sites that have removed objectionable content and/or cooperated with the on going investigations, are being unblocked. 2/2— Arvind Gupta (@buzzindelhi) December 31, 2014
Of course, free speech advocates in the world’s largest democracy were extremely distressed by what they saw as a cavalier and broad approach to online censorship.