Govt. Issues First Ever Internet Shutdown Rules & Regulations
Local administrators have been stripped of any powers to initiate internet shutdown.
Internet shutdown is now becoming more and more common in India; primarily due to the spread of social media and messenger apps. Whenever the local administration feels that the situation can go out of control during an unrest, they shut the Internet down.
But not any longer.
In a first of it’s kind decision, Ministry of Communications has issued directives and instructions pertaining to Internet shutdowns in India.
And local administrators, which includes District Magistrates and Mayor of districts, have been stripped of any powers related to Internet shutdowns.
Internet Shutdowns Rules & Regulations Issued
The notification has been filed under document ‘Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017’, issued under Telegraph Act 1885, by the Ministry of Communications.
As per this notified rules, in case of a order from Govt. of India, the Secretary, Home Ministry, can issue an order to the Secretary of the Home Department of the state for shutting down the Internet in a particular area. In an emergency, Joint Secretary (or of a rank above) authorised by the Union Home Secretary too can issue an order, which shall be Union Home Secretary within 24 hours.
On the state level, The Secretary to the State Government in-charge of the Home Department can issue the order to shut down Internet. In an emergency, Joint Secretary authorised by the State Home Secretary can also issue the Internet shutdown order, which shall be reviewed by State Home Secretary within 24 hours.
Hence, local administrators of districts now have no power related to Internet shutdowns.
The order to shutdown Internet has to be conveyed by “an officer not below the rank of Superintendent of Police or of the equivalent rank” to the relevant telecom operators, ISPs and “telegraph authority”.
Internet Shutdowns Are Expensive
In a report prepared by Brookings Institute, it was found that each Internet shutdown results in loss of Rs 148 crore to the business and community.
Since 2012, till January 2017, Internet shutdown have been reported 62 times, which means approximately Rs 9000 crore has been wasted via Internet shutdowns.
Govt. has done a commendable job by forming rules for shutting down Internet in India, but as of now, the rules are still ambiguous and unclear; mainly for the main factor: Exactly when can the Govt. shutdown Internet.
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