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ISPs Express Their Inability to Ban on Uber, Ola App

uber appCustomers of Uber and Ola cabs will continue to enjoy uninterrupted use of these taxi-hailing services in Delhi as internet service providers will soon write to the telecom department expressing their inability to comply with its directive to block the URL of these websites.

Internet service providers received communication from the telecom department on May 12 asking them to shut down the URLs of four websites including Uber, Ola cabs, TaxiForSure and without citing any reason for the move. But these service providers say it is not possible for them to do so.

“We can only block http sites and not the https sites as the latter have higher encryption codes,” Rajesh Chharia, the president of the internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI) said. According to an ISP service provider, Uber and Ola are https sites, but TaxiForSure could be blocked as it is an http site.

“However, users can still book cabs through the apps rendering the blocking of websites useless, the person added. “We have repeatedly communicated to the telecom department that sites with high encryption codes cannot be blocked by us,” Chharia added.

About four months ago the telecom department had told ISPAI and its members that it would soon set up a committee on the matter, said a senior executive at an ISP who did not wish to be quoted. “But we have not heard a word from the telecom department,” the person added. “We are perplexed by the new directive,” said another executive.

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Meanwhile there was some confusion in the telecom department about the directive, with some senior functionaries claiming that they were unaware of its existence.

Several officials told ET that the department had itself tried blocking these websites way back in March after a communication from the Delhi government requesting a blocking of the URLs and apps. “We ourselves were unable to do so because of the strong encryption code,” said a senior telecom department official.

An IT ministry official said the recent directive had been issued to comply with the request of the Delhi government, which had called for the ban of these taxi aggregators as they did not adhere to the laws of the land. These cab-hailing services had come under scrutiny after a young woman was allegedly raped by an Uber driver.

According to the Delhi government, these companies aren’t really aggregators of cabs but unlicensed radio taxis. The order has been passed under the Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and under the Information Technology ( Procedures and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009,” the second person said. The notice further says that in case the ISPs fail to block the sites, the government will initiate action against them under Section 12 of the IT Act.

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