According to a report published by Medianama, it has been found that the internet service providers, Airtel and Jio have been making use of certain methods to block several sites, which are notably blocked in India.
It is anticipated that Airtel and Jio are likely to be using ‘middleboxes’, for the purpose of blocking websites.
25 Middleboxes Traced to Airtel
Middleboxes are specially configured routers, used to block, censor or revert data requests, or simply put, to block targeted websites.
The researchers Kushagra Singh and Gurshabad, from the Centre for Internet and Society have traced 25 middleboxes to Airtel.
They have confirmed that both the ISP giants, Airtel and Jio conduct blocking of sites, through Server Name Indication (SNI).
Airtel and Jio Follow Government’s Directive
Which website needs to be blocked and which does not, is decided by the Department of Telecom.
However, it is also true that as these orders aren’t publicly available, there is no legit way of confirming which websites are ordered to be blocked.
Such opaque and arbitrary censorship means that internet access of 76% of all internet users in India is conditioned by Airtel and Jio’s practices.
According to TRAI’s latest Telecom Services Performance Indicator Report (January-March 2020), Jio accounts for 52.26% of all internet subscriptions in the country while Airtel accounts for 23.64%.
This means that perfect implementation of middleboxes and other blocking methods, even by just two of the biggest ISPs in the country, would make it easier for the Indian government to erect the Great Firewall of India.
Jio and Airtel to Use China-like Blocking Techniques
According to Medianama’s report, it is extremely clear that India is no longer using primitive website blocking.
Instead, Airtel and Jio are confining their usage to more sophisticated blocking measures, similar to those used by China.
While Jio and Airtel are making use Server Name Indication (SNI) for blocking traffic, China uses Encrypted SNI (ESNI) to do the same.