Provisions regarding Internet shutdown

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Recently, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology has criticized the Center for internet shutdown.

Control over the flow of information is established by Internet shutdown. It is defined as a deliberately created barrier to Internet or electronic communication for a specific population or location.

This can be accomplished through Internet blackouts, social media shutdowns, or throttling.

The following key issues were highlighted by the committee:

  • Internet shutdowns greatly affect the local economy, health services, freedom of the press and education.
  • Telecom operators incur a loss of Rs 2.45 crore per hour in each circle area at locations where internet shutdown or throttling is done.
  • Other businesses that rely on the Internet lose up to 50% of this amount.
  • There is currently no clear-cut rule for determining Internet shutdowns.
  • The Telecom Ministry has been criticized for not doing an impact assessment study of the Internet shutdown.

Key recommendations:

  • Instead of banning the entire internet, alternatives that ban selected services (like Facebook, WhatsApp etc) used by terrorist/anti-social elements should be exercised.
  • There should be a standard operating procedure to periodically review Internet shutdowns.

Legal Provisions Related to Internet Shutdown in India:

  • Till the year 2017, most of the provisions were governed under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C) and the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885.
  • In the year 2017, the Telecom Temporary Service Suspension (Public Emergency and Public Safety) Rules were notified. Despite the rules, the government has also exercised wide powers under section 144.
  • Section 69A of the Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008 provides the power to block certain websites.

Source – The Hindu

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