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Govt bans Pastebin and Github, faces public outcry

A public outcry erupted on social media over government blocking 32 websites which includes the likes of Vimeo, Dailymotion, archive.org, Pastebin and Github. While the former two websites are video sharing sites and have been banned in the past, Pastebin and Github store important tools for developers and coders. These sites have come under the scanner for the first time. 

The government was slammed for “censorship” over the blocking since the government did not explain its reasons behind the orders. However, it was being speculated that the websites were carrying Anti India content from ISIS and were blocked based on an advisory by Anti Terrorism Squad. The sites that have removed objectionable content and/or cooperated with the ongoing investigations are being unblocked now. 

Business Standard  could not independently confirm this. Earlier in December, the police arrested Mehdi Masroor Biswas, the alleged pro-ISIS twitter handle who was operating the account from Bangalore after a British channel ran a story on him. An official close to the development said that the government should be praised for pro-actively reacting to an issue which could have possible turned into a bigger problem.

However, another cyber expert said that it is a knee jerk reaction by the government and blocking sites in entirety is not the correct solution. “The government should not block entire sites, instead the specific pages carrying problematic content should be blocked,” the official said. Technology allows for such targeted blocking called central DNS URL filtering, and the government should employ these mechanisms. 

The official added that however, the blocking of sites such as github may not be completely unwarranted as it often becomes a platform for malware and exploits development. And sites such as archive.org may be containing past references to the so called “Anti-India” content. “But, there are no straight answers to monitoring the cyber world,” the official said. It is like looking for a needle in a haystack, without knowing what to find and where, he added. 

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