India's Supreme Court Demands Clarity On Internet Shutdowns – Forbes

NEW DELHI, INDIA – FEBRUARY 26: The Supreme Court in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Biplov … [+] Bhuyan/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) has been ordered to reveal the grounds upon which it imposes or approves internet shutdowns.
The ruling by the country’s Supreme Court follows a lawsuit from the Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC) against the state of Arunachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and West Bengal, which ordered internet blackouts last year to try and prevent cheating during the state civil service exams.
This is a common occurrence across the country, where stolen exam papers have frequently appeared online. Many districts use internet jammers near schools and exam centers, but a number of states have taken the more extreme option of blacking out the internet altogether in certain areas.
“Digital India is only possible because of the immense talent that India produces. We cannot have world’s leading companies be run by Indians while we continue shutting down the internet,” says Mishi Choudhary, founder of SFLC.
“The SC and MEITY are very clear that cheating in examinations is not a legal reason to bring our Digital lives to a standstill. We hope the courts will ensure our right to internet is respected as no rights can be negotiated without access.”
However, lawmakers have now ordered the ministry to “put in an affidavit… indicating whether there is any standard protocol with respect to the grievance raised by the petitioner and if so to what extent and how the protocol is adhered to and implemented.”
The decision comes as the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) — an industry body that includes Google, Twitter and Facebook, amongst others — calls for more central oversight of internet shutdowns. Currently, following a ruling in 2019, states make their own decisions — causing “significant inconvenience to local public at large”, according to the IAMAI.
And such shutdowns are a frequent occurrence. According to campaign group Access Now, India has imposed the largest number of any country in the world for four years running — 106 in 2021 alone.
Meanwhile, a report late last year from India’s Standing Committee on Communications and Information Technology concluded, that many of these were being ordered on the basis of “subjective assessments” by local officials and used “for routine policing”.
And many internet blackouts in India are imposed for rather murkier reasons. At the beginning of 2021, for example, internet access was cut in the troubled district of Jammu and Kashmir, followed by further shutdowns around the country later that month to try and quell protests liked to India’s Independence Day.
This year, there have been numerous shutdowns in Jammu and Kashmir, along with Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haranya and dozens of other states.
“Indian authorities’ bold and unwavering pounding of the kill switch must stop,” says Raman Jit Singh Chima, Access Now’s Asia Pacific policy director.
“An internet shutdown is not a solution — it is a disproportionate, collective punishment that violates human rights and is unacceptable in a 21st century society. The world’s largest democracy can only be preserved and strengthened with a commitment to facilitating access to the internet for all.”
The ministry has three weeks to produce its protocol for ordering shutdowns, along with the policy for implementing them. If it fails to do so, the central government may intervene.

source

Leave a Reply

Next Post

CAST positioned as the Leader in the 2022 SPARK Matrix™ for Software Composition Analysis by Quadrant Knowledge Solutions - Yahoo Finance

Wed Sep 14 , 2022
The Quadrant Knowledge Solutions SPARK Matrix™ provides competitive analysis & ranking of the leading Software Composition Analysis vendors.CAST, with its comprehensive technology and customer experience management, has received strong ratings across the parameters of technology excellence and customer impact.MIDDLETON, Mass., Sept. 13, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Quadrant Knowledge Solutions announced today that […]
%d bloggers like this: