So, let's see. One morning a few days ago, many bloggers wake up to find that they cannot view their sites. Some digging later, they find that the government has actually issued instructions to internet service providers to block the overarching domain. Bloggers get mad, as they should, and band together to protest and plan their response. RTI queries, media coverage, sharing of proxy details, legal action, quiet informal questions, all that starts to happen. Some more digging later, they find that the actual government instructions were to block only a few specified sites. The ISPs chose to implement those instructions by blocking everybody. Anger against the ISPs now, with calls for them to publicly apologize and compensate bloggers for losses.
Soon enough, the government sends out signals that they have clarified their stand and that the blanket ban will soon ("within 48 hours") be lifted. A nearly audible sigh goes up, of relief and congratulations. Yes, the collective anger worked. Good news. The sites will be back on air soon.
As I write this, all we have are those signals. But even so, we have the sweet-smelling air of triumph too.
All well in god's own country? Sure enough. Except for one small detail. As I write this, the instructions to ban those few specified sites still stand.
Any anger about that? Should there be?
To my mind, of course. That's the point of all this, after all: the government's decision to shut down my access to some sites. (As, before, governments have decided to shut down my access to some books, some films, etc). The lifting of a stupid blanket ban, by itself, was never the point.
So any RTI queries, any legal action, any blogger anger, must focus, first, on getting government to explain exactly why and how it took this decision about these specific sites; second, on using that information to set up the framework that will prevent government from banning anything, and I mean anything.
It's a huge goal, and it will take some doing to get there. But as I see it, that's the one worth fighting for. That's the true test of our individual commitments to freedoms.
Anything less is failure. So let's take that sweet-smelling air with a few pinches of salt.