IAS Target

News Paper Article - 14/09/2021

01 Jan 1970

Category : Daily Current Affairs

    On January 10, 2020, the Supreme Court stated that accessing information through the internet is a fundamental right and is under the constitution of India. This was in the case of the Union of India and Anuradha Bhasin. The government also added that any restriction on accessing the internet can be limited in scope, temporary, proportionate, and necessary.
    Through this decision, it was expected that restriction to the internet can only be applied when there is a threat to public safety or in an emergency. However, these rules were not followed properly. A year after this decision it was found that there were more instances of internet shutdown than the previous year. India’s internet restrictions accounted for a 70% loss to the global economy in the year 2020. India has become much famous in the cases of internet shutdowns.

    Recent Restrictions:

    The Government of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has banned mobile data in the valley of Kashmir. A few days ago all the internet services there has been shut down. Such restriction has been issued due to the death of Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Similarly, the Government of Haryana has also issued internet restrictions in five districts of their state when there were incidents of farmer’s protests. Although the government have published such an order of restricting access it remained an exception and not the rule despite in the case of Anuradha Bhasin(the orders of Haryana were on social media and not on their official website)
    As per the internet shutdown tracker that is maintained by the software Freedom Law center, in July and August, the Government of J & k has restricted the use of the internet on five different occasions and in the districts of Shopian, Baramulla, and Pulwama. The orders were again not uploaded to the government’s websites. Even on 2021, May the government of J&K restricted the internet on three occasions in these districts. The order was published in June due to such a delay. The government of J&K is not the only one who is irrelevant regarding the internet shutdown but they are not the only culprit.

    Erodes Trust:

    It is important to publish internet suspension orders on the official website of the Government otherwise one who approaches court cannot prove this. The best is if the person goes and the court may direct the government to produce the order but this may take plenty of time and it is possible that till then restriction has been sub-sided. This will give the government chance to escape from illegal restrictions. Such non-publication of the order also reduces the confidence of the public in the Government. In this age access to the internet is essential and restricting it creates a trust deficit in public.
    It was also a deficit as the Union Government has not given enough recognition to the directions in Anuradha Bhasin’s case. In the year 2020, the amendment of the Telecom Suspension Rules, 2017 it was stated that internet restrictions can be done only for a maximum of 15 days. But the amendment did not include publication of its order and neither the Supreme Court has to undertake periodic reviews was included.

    Lack of Awareness:

    Due to this governmental non-compliance with the law, it is difficult to follow the law. One has to examine the decision of the Supreme Court in detail to understand the obligation of the Government regarding this law. As per Section 66A of the IT Act, Supreme Court decisions are not clearly recognized the officials simply do not follow the orders due to a lack of awareness in them. For example, The State of Meghalaya said under the RTI application that they were not aware of the judgment and the decision of the Anuradha Bhasin case even after the 8 months.

    Wide-Ranging Impact

    Internet suspension has been a problem every time. In 2020, the Indian economy has faced a loss of nearly $2.8 billion due to 129 different instances of internet suspension cases. It also affected 10.3 million individuals. The internet is a source of entertainment, education, livelihood, health care, and a platform to interact with each other.
    Internet suspension causes journalistic, logical, social, and logical harm to people. Internet suspension should only be applied in case of a national emergency and not in case of democratic exercises of the right to protest. In such times internet is essential.
    It is a tool to verify the rumors and give a chance to the individuals to know the truth. On September 2, the Government of J&k restricted access to the internet stating that content on social media can misguide the people and that will affect the law and order of the Government.
    A similar reason was given by the Karnal, Haryana Government for internet suspension. Government should know that even offline rumors can misguide the public and with the absence of the internet one cannot verify the rumors.
    As per the 2019 TRAI(Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) report on service performance, 97.02% of people use the internet through phones and dongles and only 3% of people are depending on broadband internet as it is expensive. This further proves the dependency of people on the internet and the problems they can face when it is banned.
    Not only Supreme Court Parliament has also allowed restricting the internet only in public emergency or when there is a threat to the public. But such internet suspension cannot be challenged in court due to lack of transparency. More compliance regarding this decision of the Supreme Court should be present so that we can get rid of the name tag “Internet Shutdown Capital” of the world so that we can fulfill Digital India’s potential.

Posted by : IAS Target