Ignorant Judicial Blocking Of Website In India

Websites blocking in India has increased tremendously. Unfortunately, even Indian judiciary is actively assisting in unreasonable and somewhat illegal websites blocking in India. The blocking of Zone-H website in India showed how easy it is to get any qualitative and genuine site blocked.

Fortunately, Zone-H website is once more accessible from India and the judicial ban seems to have been lifted. However, the entire episode has shown how easy it is to manipulate and abuse the judicial process in India for personal and commercial gains.

Online intellectual property rights (IPRs) protection and management in India and online brand protection in India has already taken a nasty shape. Unfortunately, Indian judiciary, especially the lower judiciary, is systematically manipulated by big corporate houses in India. Lower judiciary is issuing cryptic orders without applying its mind. Further, since these orders are either ex parte or John Doe orders, they are not challenged in India, just like the Zone-H website case.

This is an abuse of process of court and process of law and it should be stopped as soon as possible. Judges presiding at lower courts must be made well aware of cyber law and technical issues of Internet.

Not very late it was reported in media that an Indian company was paid by the film industry to get copyrighted works removed from the Internet. The company openly admitted launching of Denial of Service (DoS) attacks against torrent sites that refuse to comply with takedown notices.

Industry players are also hiring crackers as brand protectors and reputation managers. None can doubt that a good review boosts the image of a brand of a company and a bad review can hurt its goodwill and brand. The companies are trying to suppress the bad and critical reviews by hiring the services of such crackers.

The modus operendi is very simple. The crackers have to make it sure that the critical online review is not available and accessible to the existing and prospective customers. Earlier this year, a cracker, promising his customers “reputation management” services, had embedded code into the website to prevent search engines from recognising certain postings. In some cases, website visitors were misdirected to a false message stating that the posting had been redacted.

Recently, Reliance Entertainment, as a pre-emptive measure for movie Singham, obtained a John Doe order from the Delhi High Court, restraining the screening/distribution of the film on various platforms, including Internet. The court order was served upon various internet service providers (ISPs) in India who blocked access to such file sharing/torrent sites. This affected genuine torrent sites and torrent users as well.

It seems Reliance has once again convinced the court to issue an order in its favour or at least it is interpreting it so. Thanks to the judicial order, the broadband customers of Reliance were not able to access certain legitimate file sharing/hosting websites as Reliance blocked such sites. Hints have been given that CERT-In has not been involved in this process at all and Reliance blocked the website unilaterally. The same websites were accessible on the networks of other ISPs.

The reason for such blocking seems to be the release of Don 2. Sources said Reliance Entertainment has obtained a “John Doe” order from a Delhi court against the piracy of Don 2 several days before its release.

Time has come for Supreme Court of India to make guidelines in this regard that can be followed by lower courts. Otherwise miscarriage of justice would keep on happening in India, especially at the lower courts.