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Update: Delhi govt mulling blocking Uber’s IP address to shut down operations: Report


Update: Regarding the documents that needed to be submitted to the Delhi Transport Department, an Uber spokesperson has said that it has submitted the details and documents under the amended Radio taxi regulations. Full statement below:

“‘We can confirm that all details and documents have been submitted earlier this week for our application under the amended Radio Taxi Scheme. Our commitment to serving the local community is absolute and we look forward to continued engagement with the government to develop a long-term solution that puts the best interests of riders and drivers first”.

Earlier: The Delhi government transport department has started a consultation with the Centre to block the IP address of Uber and shut down its operations in the country if it does not get a radio taxi licence to ply, reports the Economic Times.

Uber and other online taxi booking services were banned in Delhi following the rape of a passenger by one of Uber’s drivers in December 2014. Following which, the Delhi Transport Department decided to modify the radio taxi regulations and bring these services under its ambit. Uber had been given seven days last week to complete their radio taxi license application. Last month, Delhi Transport Department had found certain deficiencies in the license applications of Uber, Ola, TaxiForSure and NTL Call Cabs, as per the recently amended Radio Taxi regulations and rejected their applications in the current form.

The details missing in Uber’s application were certificate for parking of their fleet of cabs, telephone number, e-mail ID & address proof of their registered office in Delhi, and details regarding their plans for a 24*7 call centre.

Uber could be blocked under Section 69 A of the IT Act, 2000 and it’s worth remembering that 32 websites, including software code repositories  such as Github and Sourceforge, were blocked earlier  for allegedly posting pro-ISIS messages on them. We had pointed out that the government provides no clarity on blocking of websites and procedures for getting them unblocked.

Uber on its part has been strengthening its safety features and tied up with location-based mobile safety app Safetipin to enable Uber’s partner drivers to collect area data across Delhi from February 25 to improve passenger safety. Earlier this month, Uber updated its app in India and added a SOS panic button that will alert the local police in case of an emergency. The company also added a second safety feature called safety net, which will allow users to easily share their trip details and real-time location with up to 5 friends and family members. Uber had alsointroduced an improved ShareMyETA button that allows passengers to send their complete trip details (including live GPS tracking, driver photo, name and vehicle license number).

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Necessary requirements for blocking websites

Uber’s case for getting blocked may be very different as it primarily operates from a mobile application and is a business. However we feel visitors to a blocked website should be informed about the following :

1. The fact that the website has been blocked: There should be a notice indicating that the website has been blocked. This till ensure that visitors don’t assume that there is a problem with their Internet connection (ISP), with the websites servers or  the DNS.

2. Who has asked for the site to be blocked: This ensures that the identity of someone who has asked for a block is public. This ensures accountability and prevents frivolous complaints, since the individual or company filing the complaint will do so in a responsible manner.

3. Who has issued an order for the site to be blocked: This ensures that the adjudicatory body, whether the Department of Telecom or a court is identified as the entity that has issued the order for blocking. This ensures transparency and enforces accountability.

4. Why the website has been blocked: If my access to a page has been blocked, don’t I deserve to know why? Orders should be public, so that the department, person or a court is forced to explain why something has been blocked. Freedom of expression isn’t just the right to express yourself, but also the right to receive that expression.

5. How a block can be removed: There should be recourse established. If a page has been blocked, as the owner of the site, I should have details of whom to contact, and the process for blocks being removed. At present, that is not the case, and sites like Mobango were blocked in India for months, without knowing why or what they could to do to get blocks removed.

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6. A link with a public listing of blocks: This will allow an individual to ensure that the block is legitimate, if the government maintains a public listing of blocking orders. This ensures that telecom operators don’t block pages on their own, without orders from the government or courts.

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