Cyber-bandh: Desi Style
Date: Friday , February 28, 2003
A small leftist party in India's communist bastion West Bengal has just hit upon a novel way of registering protest. By blocking Net access to government websites!
In a country known for its rasta rokos, the Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI) hit upon a unique way of ensuring that their protest against the government reforms package would not go unnoticed. The response to a general strike, called on January 27, was only partial, but the effect on the Internet, was total—no government site or service on the Net functioned for 24 hours.
A leading Indian daily reported that all e-mails to the chief minister of the state, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, bounced back and none of the department links of the official website westbengalgov.org functioned. No mail could be sent to the Information and Technology department either, which hosts these sites.
Given the level of net usage in India, the strike would not have amounted to much, except that the protesting SUCI might just have created a precedent of sorts. Now, India can boast of its own variation of democratic hackers.
The Internet strike could be a precursor to further damage unless it is checked, noted cyber lawyer Pawan Duggal was quoted as saying.
“Birth and death certificates, passport forms, critical information on weather conditions to fishermen, even lodging a FIR in Delhi is now possible on the Internet,” says Duggal, “As the nation gets increasingly dependent on the web it will be critical to ensure that nobody is held hostage by a few disgruntled people,” he said.