Three environmental organizations in India have reported that their websites have been blocked by the government.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought out the worst in the Indian government when it comes to internet censorship. At a time when people need to be more connected through the networks, the authorities have decided to censor the use of some websites and apps for no given reason.
You may recall that we recently reported that India had blocked the private search ending DuckDuckGo for no given reason within the last month.
Continuing this cycle of banning, the government is now targeting environmental organizations. However, it seems that the cause this time is more obvious.
The first organization to suffer this attack was Let India Breathe, which did not know of the censorship measures until after multiple users of the site reported that they could not enter.
Yash Marwah, the founder of the organization, thought it was a problem with the internet domain registrar, so he decided to contact them. To his surprise, the domain company told him that they had received an order from the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) to place the site in a “hold” state.
After this, the same thing happened to the group Fridays for Future India and There Is No Earth B. In none of the cases has NIXI has given the reasons for the blocks, suggesting that it is censorship.
The scandal has been so big that the advocacy organization Internet Freedom Foundation attempted to get involved in trying to get the pages back online.
Over the past few days the websites of environmental campaigners @LetIndBreathe @FFFIndia and @ThereIsNoEarthB have been blocked and taken down. We are providing them help and assistance. #WhatTheBlock 1/6 https://t.co/uoEVYdhqwS
— Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) (@internetfreedom) July 13, 2020
This organization assures that it is an attack by the government since the three environmental groups share similarities and objectives. The activists of the groups are young and were recently campaigning online against the government in an attempt to pressure the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change, as it has tried to reduce the time it takes to discuss new policies and environmental projects. Also, they want to create additional protections for allegedly highly polluting companies.
Among the companies that would be affected by this new law are power plants, coal mines, and various agricultural businesses. However, workers in these fields have been unable to express their opinion on the streets due to the confinement caused by COVID-19, so some have resorted to online protests. For Yash Marwah, this would be the main cause for the bans.