India tops list of global internet shut-offs: Report

ForumIAS announcing GS Foundation Program for UPSC CSE 2025-26 from 26th June. Click Here for more information.

Source: The post is based on the article “India tops list of global internet shut-offs: Reportpublished in Indian Express on 28th February 2023

What is the News?

Access Now and the KeepItOn coalition has released a report titled “Weapons of control, shields of impunity: Internet shutdowns in 2022”.

What are the key findings of the report related to India?

Internet Shutdowns in India: India has enforced as many as 84 internet shutdowns in 2022 and was on top of the list of nations that ordered internet shutdowns for the fifth year in a row.

– The shutdowns were ordered on various accounts including protests, conflict, school exams, and elections.

Internet Shutdowns state wise: In 2022, the Internet was shut down 49 times in Jammu and Kashmir, the highest of any state in the country.

– Authorities in Rajasthan imposed shutdowns on 12 different occasions followed by West Bengal, which ordered shutdowns seven times.

Decline in Internet Shutdowns: 2022 was the first time when the Internet Shutdowns were fewer than 100 in India since 2017.

– This might be due to legal challenges against shutdowns, fewer mass protests in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the sustained and increasing crackdown on dissent.

Which law governs Internet Shutdowns in India?

Currently, internet shutdown orders are governed under the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017. 

The rules framed by the Department of telecommunication(DoT) say temporary suspensions can be due to public emergency or public safety and gives senior bureaucrats from the Home Ministry at the central and state levels the power to order shutdowns.

What are parliamentary Standing committee views on Internet Shutdowns?

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Communications and Information Technology has expressed concern over frequent internet shutdowns without any empirical study and pulled up the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for not maintaining the record of incidents and inaction on several of its recommendations.

The committee directed the DoT to lay down a clear cut principle of proportionality and procedure for lifting of internet shutdowns in coordination with the home ministry to prevent any misuse of the suspension rules.

It said that a centralized database of all internet shutdowns by the states can be maintained either by DoT or Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA) on similar lines as maintained by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in the MHA.

Print Friendly and PDF