Following the brutal on-camera killing of tailor Kanhaiyalal Teli in Udaipur by two men, the Rajasthan government imposed a ban on Internet services.
- Shutting down the Internet as an administrative or law-and-order measure has been a common step taken across India — for a range of reasons and by almost all political parties and governments.
- According to the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC), a legal services organisation working in this field in India, since 2012 there have been 665 Internet shutdowns in India to date. Here, ‘shut downs’ mean a total ban on mobile (3G, 4G/LTE), or fixed-line (dial-up, wired/wireless broadband) Internet, both or either of which may be shut down.
- According to Internet freedom and tech policy organisations, India is the leading country (by number) for Internet disruption incidents and frequency of shutdowns. This year, 59 shutdowns have been enforced, according to SFLC, which determines shutdowns based on government orders and media reports.
- Internet shutdowns are not always officially announced, so it might be difficult to know if your phone is simply not working properly, or if a shutdown is in place.
- Jammu and Kashmir has had more than 411 shutdowns since 2012, and the longest one went on for more than 552 days after the abrogation of the special status of the erstwhile state.
Procedures for suspension of internet –
Before 2017, Internet suspension orders were issued under section 144 of the CrPC. In 2017, the central government notified the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Service) Rules under the Telegraph Act to govern suspension of Internet. These Rules derive their powers from Section 5(2) of the Indian Telegraph Act, which talks about interception of messages in the “interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India”.
About the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 –
- The Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 is the enabling legislation in India which governs the use of wired and wireless telegraphy, telephones, teletype, radio communications and digital data communications.
- It gives the Government of India exclusive jurisdiction and privileges for establishing, maintaining, operating, licensing and oversight of all forms of wired and wireless communications within Indian territory.
- It also authorises government law enforcement agencies to monitor/intercept communications and tap phone lines under conditions defined within the lines on private as well as public property.