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Jammu & Kashmir Asks ISPs To Block YouTube, Facebook Fearing Anti-Islam Movie Backlash

The Jammu and Kashmir Government has ordered Indian ISPs and telecom service providers to take all measures, including blocking ‘Youtube’ and Facebook’ if required, to ensure that the controversial anti-Islam movie is not accessible to their subscribers in the state, according to a report by PTI (via Firstpost).

The state home department has  invoked powers conferred under section 5(2) of the Indian Telegraph Act 1885. The order states that if necessary, due to technical reasons, the fully qualified domain names shall be blocked including www.youtube.com, www.facebook.com etc, which means subscribers in Jammu and Kashmir would not be able to access the entire site. Apart from that, the order has also asked ISPs to monitor bulk emails sent out subscribers and block or filter them out if they contain any suspicious file/versions of the file. The J&K government stated that it has directed the ISPs to do so in order to in the interest of public safety and for maintaining public order. According to a report by NDTV, as a precautionary measure, all internet services in the state have been blocked since midnight. YouTube has already blocked the controversial video in the Indian region.

Previously, the government of India had asked Youtube, Google’s video sharing site, to block 11 URLs  containing objectionable excerpts from the anti-Islam movie that sparked massive anti-US protests in Libya, Egypt and Yemen, as reported by Times of India. An official from the Home Ministry had said that a request had been sent to Google by the Jammu & Kashmir government  for getting those web pages removed as soon as possible.  The request was sent by the department of telecommunication through the director general of Computer Emergency Response Team India(CERT-In) for immediate action. Google has blocked the video in the Indian region, since then.

Earlier, the Indian government had asked ISPs and telecom service providers to build embedded technologies allowing it block websites in specific regions or states, following the exodus of citizens from the North Eastern states from cities like Bangalore and Pune, among others, after the spread of rumours, for which the government blamed social networks and SMS, and blocked certain websites, social network accounts and restricted SMS. The government had asked ISPs and telcos to block Twitter in eight states, namely Kerala, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. However, the telcos had responded that they could only block sites nationally and that they did not have the technology required to implement selective state-wise blocking of websites.

Anupam Saxena also contributed to this post.

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