INTERNET SHUTDOWN (Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Governance)

News-CRUX-10     16th May 2024        

Context: According to recent data analyzed by Access Now, India accounted for 41% of the global internet shutdowns in 2023, with 116 instances logged.

Internet Shutdown

  • About: These are disruptions in access to internet services, primarily affecting mobile internet.
  • Objective: To prevent communal tensions, civil war, riots, and situations of unrest, aiming for proportionality.
  • Types: Preventive Shutdowns and Reactive Shutdowns

Data on Internet Shutdown

  • In India, more than one district was affected by 64 shutdowns, primarily due to 47 shutdowns in Manipur and a statewide shutdown in Punjab in March.
  • Besides blocking specific platforms nationwide, 13 states in India experienced local or statewide internet shutdowns.
  • The number of Indian states witnessing more than five shutdowns rose from 3 in 2022 to 7 in 2023, with 41% of all shutdowns lasting five or more days, compared to 15% in 2022.
  • The study also revealed that 51 shutdowns across 11 countries, such as Iran, Palestine, Ukraine, Russia, and Sudan, coincided with "documented grave human rights abuses."

Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017

  • About: The law was amended in 2017, leading to the promulgation of the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017.
  • Internet Service Suspension: The substantive law for suspending internet services is primarily derived from a broad interpretation of Section 5(2) of the Telegraph Act 1855.
  • Evolution from Traditional Legal Framework: The interpretation differs from traditional legal frameworks, suggesting a departure from prior Acts or Rules governing such suspensions.
  • Authority for Issuing Directives: The authority empowered to issue directives for suspension falls under the jurisdiction of the Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, a body representing the Central Government.