Times of India 4 Apr 2017

NGOs, individuals urge state CMs to curb Internet shutdown 

by PTI

NEW DELHI Amid rising instances of Internet curbs, a group of individuals and organisations have urged the chief ministers of 12 states to only restrict specific online content rather than resort to complete shutdown.

SFLC.in, a Delhi-based not-for-profit organisation, along with various Internet-related firms have sent letters in this regard to the chief ministers of these states impacted by Internet shutdowns.

The letters have been written to the chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Maharashtra, J&K, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat and Haryana.

“The Internet shutdowns are imposed using state power under Section 144 by these specific states and not by the Union Government. The central government is bound to follow the process under Section 69 IT act.

“These letters to the chief ministers of all 12 states, which have been affected by Internet shutdowns till date, are an effort by us to address the source of the problem,” SFLC.in President and Legal Director Mishi Choudhary told .

As per Internet Shutdown tracker of SFLC, there have been 28 incidents of Internet closure in Jammu & Kashmir, 9 cases each in Gujarat and Haryana, 8 in Rajasthan, 3 Nagaland, 2 cases each in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Manipur and 1 incident each in Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh since 2012.

As per the tracker, far India has experienced a record number of 66 such incidents since 2012, with the number increasing more than two-fold from 14 in 2015 to 31 in 2016.

The letters sent to the chief ministers urge them to “take requisite action that would prohibit the issuance of orders that make Internet services entirely inaccessible for a particular area, and rather recommend that Section 69A and the procedure established by the rules therein be applied to limit the restriction to certain specific online content.”

The signatories of the letters include the Centre for Internet and Society, Digital Empowerment Foundation, Internet Democracy Project, IT for Change and Society for Knowledge Commons, individuals like Anivar Aravind (Executive Director, Indic Project), IIT Bombay professor Kannan Moudgalya and others.

“We are hopeful that our efforts will make the government take in account the enormous effects of Internet shutdowns on the social-economic condition of our citizens and understand their plight,” Choudhary said. PRS MKJ

Originally published in Times of India.