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Internet shutdowns in India UPSC NOTE

 Why is addressing energy inefficiency in residential buildings important?

  • The Indian government imposed a total of 780 shutdowns between January 1, 2014, and December 31, 2023.

  • According to data collected by the Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC). 

  • Shutdowns flared up during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in 2019.

  • The abrogation of Article 370 in 2019, and the introduction of Farm Bills in 2020

  • Internet disruptions in India accounted for more than 70% of the total loss to the global economy in 2020. 

  • Data shows India shut down the internet for over 7,000 hours in 2023.

  • Indian States and Union Territories can impose an internet shutdown only in case of a “public emergency” or in the interest of “public safety”, according to the Indian Telegraph Act. 

  • However, the law does not define what qualifies as an emergency or safety issue

  • The Supreme Court, in the landmark Anuradha Bhasin v. Union of India case, reiterated that internet shutdowns violate fundamental rights to freedom of expression and shutdowns lasting indefinitely are unconstitutional

  • Moreover, Courts have asked governments to make shutdown orders public, a provision poorly complied with, experts have noted.

What are the primary reasons cited by the Indian government for imposing internet shutdowns?

  • Regionally, Jammu and Kashmir saw the highest number of shutdowns at 433 in the last 12 years.

  • The longest blackout in 2023 took place in Manipur from May to December, amid ethnic clashes.

  • As of February 15 this year, internet shutdowns were active in Haryana amid the farmers’ protests.

  • The Union government invoked powers under a British-era law to suspend mobile internet as Punjab farmers are holding protests in Delhi.

  • Activists have pointed out that India failed to meet the ‘three-part test’ in imposing blackouts in J&K and Manipur

  • Under international law, to block any access to content or invoke coercive measures that violate people’s fundamental rights, countries should check if the action is provided for by law; pursues a legitimate aim; and follows standards of necessity and proportionality

  • The majority of internet outages in the last decade were localised to specific districts, cities and villages.

  • The trends differ globally: protests are the most common reason for internet shutdowns, followed by information control and political instability.

  • Between 2015 and 2022, more than 55,000 websites were blocked, according to SFLC data.

  • The biggest share of content censored was done under section 69A of the IT Act, by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. 

  • URLs were blocked due to links to organisations banned under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Recently, the Ministry ordered news outlet The Caravan to take down a story which alleged abuse, torture, and murderof civilians by the Indian Army in Jammu’s Poonch district.

India and global trends

  • Global Internet freedom has declined for the 13th consecutive year.

  • The environment for human rights online has deteriorated in 29 countries.

  • These data according to the latest Freedom House report

  • India’s ranking has hovered around the same benchmark in the last three years

  • This is a dip from 2016 and 2017, when India scored 59 points, to 50 points in 2023.

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Internet shutdowns in India UPSC NOTE
Internet shutdowns in India UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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