Forwarded Article sent by Amit Bahree March 4, 1997
VSNL (Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited), the only Internet Service Provider (ISP) in India (it is a government-owned corporation) is gagging the dissent against its dictatorial policies by blocking the WWW sites which host any campaign against VSNL's wrong policies.
Inspite of being a government company, instead of "taking the information to maximum number of people in the cheapest and easiest way", it is doing everything possible to make it difficult for more and more people to get easy access to the Internet.
And, when people oppose it by just voicing their opinions against their policies, they start blocking the access to sites that sponsor such campaigns.
Some concerned users who believe that information must not be controlled or monopolised have formed a voluntary group named "CITIZENS FOR FREE INFORMATION" and have launched a campaign against such policies.
A press release has been issued against these policies and a simultaneous signature (e-mail and physical signatures) campaign has been launched in the country on the issue.
We request you to :
1. Send an e-mail to : firstname.lastname@example.org [ VSNL's address ] protesting/registering your protest on the issue. Please send a copy of your e-mail protest to email@example.com so that we can record the number of protest and present a hard-copy proof of the same with our memorandum to Government.
2. Please forward this message to others who, you believe, will support this cause.
A copy of the press release is given below.
The latest details about the campaign/issue will be available at :
We encourage all of you to join CITIZENS FOR FREE INFORMATION; there are no hassles, no prizes -- just the satifaction that you have helped to do something creative!
Also I request you to forward this mail to all of your friends/ relatives/neighbours/mailing-lists, etc. Already, mail has started coming in from quite a few places. And just for our statistical data whichever mail you send to VSNL send a Carbon Copy to us so that if the need arises then we can show VSNL the exact number of e-mail messages.
CITIZENS FOR FREE INFORMATION
3542, Raja Park, Shakurpur, New Delhi-34. India
Phone - 7106796. Fax - 7194343
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
CONTROL ON FLOW OF FREE INFORMATION
In many countries all over the world there are different ways and means by which the Govt.tries to control the flow and availability of information to the citizens.
Internet is one single means of flow of information which has broken this control in many parts of the world. Various Governments. which are having dictatorial attitudes are trying to control / censor the Internet through different means, although they are not getting much success in this.
Internet is also an instrument which, by removing the barriers, is bringing the people of the world closer to each other, bringing the concept of "universal citizenship" closer to reality.
VSNL in India is the sole Internet Service Provider (ISP) and has been giving Internet connectivity to people since August, 1995.
Since the time VSNL kicked off its service in India, it has been plagued by various problems and controversies. The initial teething troubles (technical pitfalls) were understandable and tolerated well by the people. Eighteen Months have passed since the VSNL started its Internet Service in India and it has failed to live upto people's expectations. Its service does not compare well, even with many Private ISP's (run by as little as four people). The only thing which compares, or perhaps is higher than its Western Counterparts is the price being charged for the Internet Services.
The price tariff is highly irrational, the service can be, at best, described as erratic, the technical support is way below the mark and the worst of all, is the absence of a uniform implementation even in various cities being serviced by VSNL.
All this has been tolerated by people, with the hope that things will change. Recently VSNL, in its supreme wisdom, whimsically came up with increasing the tariff further without augmenting its services on one hand and simultaneously not accepting new connections. This smells of a dictatorial attitude of not allowing people to actually access the Internet.
And now, as if launching its final salvo, VSNL comes out in open as a trigger-happy Hitler gagging people's dissent against its functioning.
Recently, VSNL intimated all its users of the hike in Internet tariffs and invited their comments in response. Obviously, many people opposed them and as we understand VSNL has received thousands of e-mails (solicited responses) branding the hike in prices as irrational and unjustified and asking VSNL to not only improve the service but also to reduce the tariff to make the Internet (medium of free flow of information) more accessible to the people.
This sending of responses to VSNL has spontaneously become a campaign which is being carried out by users, not only by sending e-mails to VSNL but also on the electronic Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) and the Internet. One such site, "ApnaNet" (www.ApnaNet.com) - run by enthusiastic citizens, took up this issue and converted it into an electronic signature campaign for collecting opinions of the citizens on the designs of VSNL.
This site was frequented by thousands of people from India generating an equal number of responses, which this site forwarded to VSNL.
VSNL irked by such staunch opposition from various media and multitudes of people from all walks of life, took the extreme and unprecedented step of blocking access to the above mentioned Web Site. This obviously is a glaring violation of an individual's right to Freedom of Speech and Expression.
As a user commented, "What will they do next ? Sift through our e-mail for Anti-VSNL talk ? or maybe, listen to conversations abroad, to check for criticism of their August organization?" VSNL wants to decide what should and should not be on the Internet. This is ridiculous as the Internet is a medium for promoting free speech and flow of information.
It is behavior like this which is stifling the Information Revolution.
We, the CITIZENS FOR FREE INFORMATION, oppose this atrocious, undemocratic, dictatorial and illegal attitude of VSNL (Government Organization) and call upon all the fellow citizens to oppose this through all means.
for CITIZENS FOR FREE INFORMATION
(Signed) Press Coordinator CFI
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