Report ‘Suspension of telecom services/internet and its impact”

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Recently the report of the Parliamentary Committee “Suspension of Telecom Services/Internet and its impact” has been presented in the Parliament.

Internet shutdown and related provisions:

  • Internet shutdown refers to the intentional suspension of Internet services in a limited area for a specified period of time, usually at the behest of the government.
  • Earlier, internet shutdown was done by many District Magistrates by invoking the powers mentioned in Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973.
  • However, the Telecom Temporary Suspension of Service (Public Emergency and Public Safety) Rules, 2017 were also invoked. Despite these rules section 144 is still used.

Effect of Internet Shutdown:

  • Telecom operators incur a loss of Rs 2.45 crore per hour in each circle area.
  • India lost $2.8 billion in the year 2020 due to internet shutdown. In addition, it also affects the life and liberty of the people.

Key recommendations of the committee on Internet shutdown

  • A proper mechanism should be put in place to decide on the justification for the telecom/internet shutdown.
  • Instead of banning internet completely, over the top (OTT) services like Facebook, WhatsApp etc should be selectively banned.
  • A centralized database of all internet shutdown orders in the country should be maintained.
  • Strong monitoring mechanism should be put in place so that States/UTs do not have to use Section 144 of CrPC to block internet in their area.

Source- The Hindu

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