Centre for Internet & Society

Latest reports confirm that Tata Photon has blocked access to the Wordpress.com domain across India, following a government order to block web pages containing offensive content.

Published in tech 2 on August 25, 2012. Pranesh Prakash is quoted.

Apparently, the ISP has resorted to a blanket ban, blocking access to the entire site instead of clamping down on specific web pages carrying unacceptable content. Wordpress is accessible through other ISPs such as Airtel and Reliance. However, there is no clarity yet about any other ISP blocking out Wordpress entirely, and we are in the process of verifying this.

We find that the domain can be accessed through means such as free proxy websites when using a Tata Photon connection, which could indicate that the problem does not lie with the Wordpress server. Despite the inability to view Wordpress websites and blogs, those with registered accounts on Wordpress are able to log in to the website. Certain portions of the Dashboard or website backend are known to have been blocked, and what remains accessible is functioning very slowly for Tata Photon users. Users cannot edit or post new content at the moment, but can view sections such as the website's stats. However, this all-encompassing block seems to be affecting only the Wordpress.com platform and not Wordpress.org.

Error message

The error message that most users are coming to

A blogger by the name 'Anon and on' has written, “I can’t access any WordPress.com blog from home. Neither can I open up the window for a new post or access any support forums. I’ve cleared the cache and tried different browsers, but no luck. All I can do is log in. If I try to see any WordPress.com blog or access my Dashboard or hit “New Post”,  the notification I get is that the server couldn’t be contacted and that I should check my connection. Which I would do if it wasn’t for the fact that I can open any and every other website”.

We tried to contact Tata Photon to get a clear idea, but it was unavailable for comment. We also contacted Tata Photon users, who run their websites and blogs on the Wordpress platform. They said they have been unable to access the service since Monday. Many users tweeted out their puzzlement and frustration after discovering that they were suddenly unable to view their own blogs and sites.

"Tata simply blocked 25 MILLION wordpress blogs @cis_india highlight this"

"Not able to open http://Wordpress.com blogs on Tata Photon Plus."

"all wordpress blogs blocked in Tata photon plus"

"It's some Tata Photon bug. Wordpress working fine with Reliance."

"There is a known issue with Tata Photon and Wordpress. Found 5 people who have the same."

In protest, some bloggers from across the country have formed a group called the Indian Bloggers' Forum. The forum plans to approach the Supreme Court with a PIL seeking immediate unblocking of their blogs and websites.

Earlier this week, a list containing 309 URLs sought to be banned by the government in light of the Assam violence and the subsequent exodus in northeast India was leaked online. The URLs comprising Twitter accounts, HTML img tags, blog posts, entire blogs, and a handful of websites, were blocked between August 18 and 21. In an analysis of the leaked information, Pranesh Prakash, Programme Manager at the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) wrote, "It is clear that the list was not compiled with sufficient care". The list included Wordpress.com and Wordpress.org among other domains. However, only select entries - 3 from Wordpress.org and 8 from Wordpress.com- were meant to be blocked out.

The clampdown on websites with content deemed to be offensive and disruptive led to the Indian government ordering the blocking of around 310 web pages. The Centre began to come down heavily on the channels it believed were playing a role in triggering fear, and leading to violence and the mass displacement of Indians from the northeast. It has been reported that morphed images and videos were uploaded to these websites with the intention of inciting the Muslim community in the country.

If your access to Wordpress has been blocked, let us know in your comments.