Friday, July 21, 2006

Time to Speak Up

The fact of the matter is that a large part of my formal education and my skills are related to writing clever code so that a microprocessor may efficiently access and use peripheral devices. That rather neatly does sum up my areas of expertise. I do not opine on the Indian political jamboree and the form and technique of members of the Indian cricket team because of this very reason -- ineptitude. It is not due to the lack of attachment or emotion but due to the marked absence of erudition and knowledge that I do not venture to comment on the above mentioned subjects, which frankly are beyond my ken. Therefore, I had previously decided to maintain the stolid, silent, gawking silence on the matter of the ridiculous censoring of the blogspot.com and typepad.com domains and a bunch of other websites by the imbeciles in the bureaucracy and the government. I have however decided against it and as a result, I will make this boring and pontificating exception for reasons which I shall also try to put across. I really do not expect the storming of the neighbourhood Bastille after this post hits the stands mainly due to two reasons. Firstly, my writing is not evocative enough and secondly, if my regular readership (roughly three in number) did decide to embark on an such an adventure, they would be hopelessly outnumbered by the prison guards. What however, I do expect this post to do is notch up my expression of protest, disgust and frustration as a citizen of the Republic of India because now is the time to speak up.

We are a democracy with flaws. Our politicians have been merrily filching public money and buying their children guns -- guns with which they shoot barmaids in the face because they were refused drinks. We are one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Despite the flaws, at the end of the day, there is hope. There is hope because we are a democracy. There is hope because the fathers of our constitution had envisioned a nation with a free, empowered society. It is just a matter of time before our people realize that. It is just a matter of time before we fulfil our destiny. It will not happen in my lifetime or my children's lifetime, but it is inevitable. It is on the cards. The promise of a free, empowered society is our fountain of hope.

There will be people who will deem the blocking of a bunch sites as trivial -- "Somebody must have blocked some sites. What is your problem ?" they will say. Well, here is my problem. When you selectively block a bunch of sites, you are stifling opinion and debate. You are are shutting out certain ideologies since you do not like them. You Sir, have no freaking right to do that to MY society. You are screwing around with a vision and a fundamental right that has been granted to me, to us -- a privilege that I hold sacrosanct. You are destroying my, our vision of the free, empowered society. That is my problem. That is our problem.

In a democracy, one hopes that the functional fourth estate would be that entity through which public outrage would be expressed and viewpoints debated on. The sad truth however is that, when the Indian Government and its entourage of incompetent bureaucrats were walloping the living daylights out of the freedom of expression, the headlines and the news (sic) channels were too deeply involved with the return of Sachin Tendulkar in the cricket team to bother about other unimportant topics like the heavy handed stifling of free speech. That Indian MSM sadly has got its priorities so yellowed, that it is no longer functional.

We therefore now have a scenario where we have a very very scary example being set by the authorities coupled with a dysfunctional, disinterested and boneheaded public press. The government says that I can jolly well select and shut up the opinions I dont take a liking to, and the public press responds with a nonchalant shrug. So, it is time to grab the nearest soapbox, stand atop it and holler. Whatever minuscle platform or forum one might have, it is now the time to put in a word of protest. I know fully well that a handful of writings on the internet like this one is not going to make any difference to the government or the vote banks but we as citizens of a free country and a society will do all that is possible on our part. We will do our bit. We will register our protest. As I have said, now is the time to speak up.

7 comments:

Dinesh said...

From what MONO tells me, Indian Govt, issued a directive to ISPs to block certain blogs (which although is against free speech dogma, but does not cross lines which we the people, are used to). But ISPs went a step futher and blocked the entire domain(s). There can be tons of reasons for that, foremost comes to mind is, our ISPs are people who don't know difference between blogspot and a dead rabbit.

Bald Monkey said...

Whatever minimal knowledge I have of the networking thingy, blocking particular blogspot tasks would be slightly resource intensive, since all blogspot sites operate on the same ip address. This would mean that the HTTP get request would have to extracted from a reassembled TCP stream, and that particular TCP stream would have to be stopped. Slightly processor intensive. So, I would be assuming that the ISPs went in for a quick and dirty rather than expensive and slow -- They after all are running a business.
What I however am fundamentally opposed to is censoring of opinion without giving two hoots to anybody. It is a dangerous thing to do. I beleive that some things should be protected with extreme prejudice -- like the freedom of speech since once we start compromising out there we just spiral into a abyss of compromise.

Anonymous said...

You dont need to parse TCP stream to block a specific blog link from blogspot. Can be done using URL specific blocking. Besides, you are mixing TCP and HTTP protocol. There's absolutely no need to deal with TCP stream when blocking any site. HTTP header provides enough information on specific URL, even though its from same IP address

Bald Monkey said...

@anonymous:
I would really appreciate it if people would not leave their technical opinion anonymously. I say so because I seek enlightenment. I am really really interested to know how a HTTP header may be parsed at a router which is actually dealing only in IP packets. I have a feeling that so would the ISPs. Pray enlighten.

Anonymous said...

I might be wrong too. My way of looking at is this.


(Considering ISP providers use some kind of proxy or firewall)

a)I type blackspot.blogspot.com or www.blockspot.com/blackspot or any of this form.

b)The data arrives at the ISP proxy.The ISP proxy at that point deals with HTTP.Check URL.Blocks it.

But if i look at it in a different way,your point makes sense.

a) Type in the URL.

b) Data passes through ISP. It doesnt check anything at this point.

c) Gets response from the destination server.

d) Now, the ISP router tries to parse the packet .

niks said...

Based on what little I know I agree with Bald Monkey here - the TCP/IP is a layered protocol, HTTP being at the topmost layer and physical layers being at the bottom. Network routers and proxies work on network layers only. You are not even having TCP packets with you - you have IP packets. Only when it reaches your browser, the HTTP protocol which is at the application layer comes into play to display the page. The TCP basically checks if any of the IP packets got messed up and asks for a re-transmission. However, the filtering is done at IP layer where before the request for the page gets sent out by the ISP's proxy, a forbidden or whatever page comes back to the requester/client machine. Again this is my understanding of the way internet and proxy server works, corect me if anything is not right.

niks said...

About the real topic then, as per law and consititution, under the Right to Freedom - freedom of expression, as long as your blog does not hurst or offend anyone, you can contest the restoration of the blog in any court of law in India.
Such cases are treated at extermely high priority and you can escalate it to Supreme Court within a week if no satisfactory decision is given by lower courts.
You can also approach High court directly.

This actually shows the severity of what we are deprived of. Question is why don't we do it? Answer is because there are other sites too where we can have blogs and express our ideas. Govts. may close one site but there are others, the internet world is a huge place. So keep expressing yourself. If all blog sites are blocked, open your own, if that's blocked too, we'll see the guys in court for enforcing something so ridiculous.