Some Global Technology Giants

Cyberspace: Google, Twitter, Meta, others express concerns over 683 Internet shutdowns in India

*The technology industry body in a letter to the Indian Government lament the 683 world’s largest Internet shutdowns in the country have caused ‘significant inconvenience to the local public at large’

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

In reaction to the country’s constant disruptions to Internet connectivity, the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has written to the central government in India, urging the authorities to control internet shutdowns, and avert what they described as “uncertainties” that stem from state governments also giving  orders.

ConsumerConnect learnt the industry body, whose members include the global tech giants as Google, Twitter, Meta and Reliance, in the letter to the government last week stated, that Internet shutdowns have caused “significant inconvenience to the local public at large”.

According to the letter, obtained by Reuters, the Indian central government should be the governing authority for Internet suspensions in the country, and not the states.

States now handle Internet restrictions: Big Techs

Currently, Internet shutdowns are handled by the states, which shut down Internet services for a variety of reasons, including maintaining law and order, as well as preventing students from cheating on exams.

The IAMAI, therefore, urged the Centre to be the governing authority for Internet shutdowns, with states following the procedures it lays down.

Earlier, the country’s Supreme Court, last Friday, directed the Information and Communications (IT) Ministry to respond to a petition alleging indiscriminate shutdown of Internet facilities to prevent cheating in exams.

The notice was in response to a petition filed by Software Freedom Law Centre, which also challenged arbitrary Internet shutdowns to prevent cheating during public examinations.

The Centre’s petition said the governments of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Rajasthan had been imposing Internet shutdowns, based on “imaginary, fanciful or fictitious law and order problems” arising from the exams.

It also stated: “Such administrative decisions are manifestly arbitrary and wholly disproportionate response, and are impermissible under the Constitution.”

Scope of the problem

Report indicates that India imposed Internet shutdowns 106 times in 2021 –more than any other country for the fourth consecutive year – according to digital rights advocacy group Access Continued Internet disruptions in India

The country’s 683 Internet shutdowns are said to be the world’s highest

It was gathered that between 2012 and 2022, the country has witnessed 683 Internet shutdowns – the highest in the world.

This alarming record looks set to continue in 2022, report noted

Besides, India accounted for 85 percent of Internet shutdowns in the first six months of 2022, out of the 10 countries where such disruptions and restrictions were recorded, a report by Surfshark and NetBlocks August 2022 said.

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