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United Nations Report on Internet Shutdown

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United Nations Report on Internet Shutdown

Recently released United Nations-backed report (by OHCHR) has highlighted that shutting down the internet affects people’s safety & well-being, hampers information flow and harms the economy. This UN report details its ‘dramatic’ impact on people’s lives and human rights.

The United Nations has called on countries to avoid enforcing internet shutdowns. At the same time, the United Nations has also warned of dire consequences.

According to the United Nations report the effects of internet shutdown can be:

  • All regions bear the economic cost of an Internet shutdown. For example it disrupts financial transactions, commerce and industry.
  • It undermines academic results. Interferes with education system and political debate or decision participation.
  • Communication delays and barriers also affect the health care system.
  • It impedes access to essential support and protection for women and girls. In this way it widens the gender divide.
  • Causes mental trauma by depriving people of the easiest means of reaching their families.

Key recommendations-

For states: States should avoid complete internet shutdown.

Any Internet shutdown must be subject to the following conditions:

  • There should not be any ambiguity. Also, it should be based on publicly available legislation.
  • It should be resorted to only when it is necessary to achieve any legitimate purpose.
  • Internet shutdowns have to be proportional to the legal purpose.
  • For companies: Improved engagement and collaboration with all stakeholders working to prevent and resolve communication barriers.
  • For development agencies, regional organizations and international organizations: ensure that the risks of Internet shutdowns are considered when designing and implementing collaboration programs related to Internet connectivity.
  • For Civil Society: Strengthen collaborative efforts to prevent, investigate, study and respond to Internet shutdowns.

Provisions of Internet Shutdown in India:

  • Presently, suspension of telecom services (including Internet shutdown) is governed by the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017, notified under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885.
  • The rules of the year 2017 provide for temporary shutdown of telecom services in an area on grounds of public emergency (up to 15 days at a time).

Source – The Hindu

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