Indian users denied access to Yahoo Groups

Yahoo has requested India's Department of Telecommunications to ensure that Indian participants in the company's online groups...

Yahoo has requested India's Department of Telecommunications to ensure that Indian participants in the company's online groups are not affected by a DoT order last week blocking access in India to a specific group.

The DoT  blocked access to http://groups.yahoo.com/groups/kynhun, a Yahoo Group on Yahoo's US website as it was judged to be promoting antinational news, and containing material against the government of India and the state government of Meghalaya. [

But citing technical difficulty in blocking access to a single group on Yahoo Groups, ISPs in India blocked access to all Yahoo Groups, inconveniencing a  large number of users.

"My external students have set up a Yahoo group for discussions, which is now effectively blocked," said Rajeev Gowda, associate professor in economics and social sciences at the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore.

"To be sure, there are alternatives sites offering this free service, but changing a group takes time and effort. What I find difficult to understand is why the ISPs have to block all of Yahoo Groups just to block access to a single group."

"Although the order apparently was intended to block access to only one particular US-based group, the practical effect has been to block access from India to all of Yahoo's US-based Groups,"  said  a statement, addressed to users of the groups, which went up this week on http://in.groups.yahoo.com/, a Yahoo India website.

"The Group targeted by the DoT did not at any time appear on Yahoo India. Yahoo has requested that the DoT narrow the scope and impact of its order and hopes the DoT will restore your access to this service shortly."    

Officials at Yahoo India Web Services in Mumbai declined to comment on the statement as it was issued by the company's US unit. Yahoo India sources have maintained that they were not involved in the issue, as the group blocked by the DoT is on Yahoo's  US site.

Yahoo appears to be avoiding a direct confrontation with the Indian government, and analysts believe any legal recourse against the DoT order is unlikely. By yesterday, ISPs in India had not yet restored access to other Yahoo Groups.

John Ribeiro writes for IDG News Service

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