Reliance Jio is back in news over arbitrarily blocking access to websites. Three months after the telecom operator was seen restricting access to VPN and proxy websites in India, Reliance Jio has now been found blocking access to the entire domain of chat service Telegram in the country. The chat app, however, seems to be working without issues. The telco was also seen limiting Telegram domain in December last year; however, it is unclear if the domain has been continuously blocked since.
When accessed using Reliance Jio data network, the Telegram Web client URLs either throw “This site can't be reached” error or “Your requested URL has been blocked as per the directions received from Department of Telecommunications, Government of India” message. The restriction to Telegram domain was first spotted by a Twitter user @skbohra in the Rajasthan circle, however Gadgets 360 was able to independently verify that telegram.org URLs are not working on Jio's network in Delhi, Mumbai, and Chandigarh as well. The restriction seems to be countrywide. The problem is also present on Jio GigaFiber connections, as verified by Gadgets 360. Jio GigaFiber is Jio's Fibre Internet service that is currently in a limited rollout.
Like most previous instances, including the blocking of proxy and VPN websites on Reliance Jio, there is no clarity on why Telegram Web version is being restricted by Jio. Was there a court order, as earlier used to happen with file hosting/ torrent websites ahead of a major movie release, or is it a technical problem at Reliance Jio's end?
We spotted an old response on Twitter by the @JioCare account, which is the official customer support handle of Reliance Jio, made in December of last year to a user over Telegram block itself, in which the @JioCare account wrote “the [Telegram] Website has been indefinitely blocked as per the instructions received from the government.” It is possible that the same restrictions have continued since December and were spotted in February by other users. The situation is particularly baffling as the operator doesn't seem to be restricting access to the Telegram app. We have reached out to Reliance Jio for clarity on the matter and will update this report when we hear back.
To recall, Reliance Jio was spotted limiting access to a number of proxy as well as VPN websites, including hide.me, proxysite.com, hidester.com, kproxy.com, zend2.com, anonymouse.org, megaproxy.com, whoer.net, and vpnbook.com, in the country in January this year. While some of those websites like hide.me are now accessible, others continue to remain restricted on Jio's network.