Last month global hacking movement Anonymous sent a communique to Indian government protesting the recent court ban on sites like Torrent Vimeo and hacked some websites including the Supreme Court of India. They continued to hack more websites and posted a message to web users, asking them to organize protests against “web censorship” in India on June 9, 2012.
Anonymous so far has organized or instigated many “Occupy” protests around the world against censorship and abuse of power. The most popular of these protests has been the Occupy Wall Street protests in the US.
This dramatic YouTube video calls for a non-violent protest in India on the 9th of June, 2012.
In a press release published in the Anonymous Operations website 18 Facebook events across several Indian cities were listed calling netizens to join. They also published directives for the protest and guides to prepare Anonymous masks. The messages reiterated that being anonymous in a peaceful protest does not mean that they are doing something illegal. Anonymous India also sent an open letter to the government.
Nikhil Pahwa at Medianama opines:
Anonymous India’s activities do help: they increase awareness of India’s war on the Internet, both by the government through legislation and censorship, and by movie producers and copyright owners through takedown notices and John Doe orders.
Meanwhile they continued to attack more websites like MTNL. Nikhil in above post also recognizes that Anonymous India’s takedown actions could Be counterproductive:
These attacks could lead to the undoing of a lot of work done by activists for Internet freedom. [..]
Activities that bring more information on the blocks to light help strengthen the case for more specificity in court orders by highlighting misuse by copyright owners and ISPs, and also for modification in the IT Rules. Taking down sites weakens it.
Oxblood Ruffin (pseudonym) in a guest post in Kafila says:
Anonymous is a public relations pandemic with an exaggeration problem, not a treacherous horde. It’s time the press learned the difference.
Ruffin also wonders whether Anonymous India can get the job done:
The simple answer is no. The Indian government won’t listen to a single word they say. In fact, Anonymous India has given authorities ammunition to tighten up the IT Act even further in response to their actions. Getting press can be good for the ego but it can set back the objective.
Anonymous India sent a reply to Ruffin stressing that they are doing it so that people like Ruffin could write freely in the Internet:
We would also like to ask him before this movement how many Indians knew they were victims of internet censorship? Government was secretly imposing censorship through ISPs with more than 400 content filter requests made to Google. He says we can’t change anything. We say we’ve educated the people about the wrong doings of the government already and more is going to happen. They will see how their elected government is taking away their freedom of speech, freedom of expression and privacy in the same of censorship.
Today a number of Indian Internet activists listened to the call of the Anonymous operations and held protests in several Indian cities against growing censorship of internet by their government. Young activists wearing anonymous masks were seen demonstrating in sixteen cities including Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore. The turnout was low but they could spread their message via Twitter hashtags like #OpIndia #OccupyMumbai etc. The Anonymous group also attacked the websites of www.cert-in.org.in and www.india.gov.in and these were down most of the day.
Hoezaay was in one such protest in Azaad Maidan, Mumbai and shares his experience in a blogpost:
I’m completely against ridiculous censorship of the Internet, so i decided to go support the cause and and check out what was going on. [..]
Most of the people there had their heads and hearts in the right place. They knew what they were doing there and what they were protesting against. [..]
I love what Anonymous is doing but i don’t support taking down government websites, mostly because our people probably didn’t even know they had these websites till they went down. If Anonymous can, please help us expose and take down the corrupt. That would be much more effective.
Please check his post for some photos of the protest.
Here are some reactions from Twitter:
@maemariyam: #OccupyMumbai may have been mellow but a lot of strong opinions were flying around about censorship, govt, legality internet geeks.
@red_devil05: RT @MTVNoiseFactory: #OccupyMumbai Azad Maidan, 4pm. #OccupyDelhi India Gate, 5pm. #OccupyKolkata South City Mall, 4 pm. #OccupyPune Shivaji Nagar, 4pm
@emescube: This cop says..if you guys came here through online world…do your protest online. He just couldn’t understand what #opindia is all about.
You can follow more Tweets on the protest here.