Fearing ISIS, India censors dozens of popular websites

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.

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.

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.

Twitter users identifying themselves as Anonymous quickly vowed revenge with the hashtag #OpIndia, though it wasn’t clear what sites they planned to take down.

H/T @pranesh_prakash, Times of India | Photo via Andrew Middleton/Flickr

Kevin Collier

Kevin Collier

A former senior politics reporter for the Daily Dot, Kevin Collier focuses on privacy, cybersecurity, and issues of importance to the open internet. Since leaving the Daily Dot in March 2016, he has served as a reporter for Vocativ and a cybersecurity correspondent for BuzzFeed.