Internet shutdowns in our democracy

Internet shutdown means complete outage of Internet in an area, it can be at a national or a sub national level. Recently, there has been a manifold increase in the frequency of Internet shutdowns in our country. This recent upsurge has been unprecedented in the history of Indian democracy.

Recently, a top UK security and privacy firm top10vpn has confirmed that India has had a loss of 2.8 billion dollars due to internet shutdown. This amounts to more than 70% of the loss to global economic out of the 4 billion dollars lost. Internet access was restricted over 75 times in India in 2020. This leads to losses to not just economy but also to social sectors like health and education. In state like Jammu and Kashmir internet shutdown has ranged from days to even months. This is unfair to the students who depend on internet for education, it is unfair to the economy and job sector as well. Internet access is recognised as a basic right under article 21 by recent judgement of the supreme court.

Internet shutdown can be of various types internet outage is where internet access is cut off completely. Whereas, throttling is where the internet speed is cut down to 2G speed. Social media outage is where certain websites may be blocked. Information technology act amendment of 2008 allows the government to shut certain websites but not to shut internet completely.

New rules introduced in 2017 and 2020 to the Telegraph Act 1885, mandates that internet shutdowns must not be more than 15 days. But of course one can understand that these mandates have not been followed to the mark. The government sites reasons such as sovereignty and security of the country, threat to public order to secure its reasons for shutting the internet for such long spans of time.

Paath nothing can justify the loss to humanity and quality of life due to lack of access to internet. Today most of the work and many businesses are completely dependent on the Internet customers and sellers equal access internet for their businesses. Penetration of Internet and access to services in various regions, due to these shutdown, have been affected. Another reason is, to stop hate speech and rumours spreading like wildfire on apps like WhatsApp, where rumours are easy to believe and fake news is not fact-checked by the viewers.

Internet shutdowns are violative of Human rights they have a huge impact on the economy. They have a huge social cost you as access to health and education is widely affected. It also fails to achieve the objective of safety safeguarding public order as terrorist organisation and extremists follow radio communication and other means of secure communication to surpass the internet.

Imposing section 144 , banning certain organisations, blocking internet is understood for security of the nation. But transparency is the issue, the people must know the reasons of such actions. Freedom of Speech entitled to every citizen of India under article 19 is be abrogated by such practices. It is high time that India maintains its stance on its democratic outlook and safeguards the rights of the people.

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

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