In the past month alone, we've seen three instances of bans online: firstly, the ban on mobile and then wireline Internet in the state of Gujarat, which was followed by the bans in Godhra and the state of Jammu & Kashmir. Some thoughts on the bans: 1. There is information asymmetry: On the face of it, pre-emptive shutdowns, such as that in Jammu & Kashmir, seem unwarranted. As citizens (especially as those who don't like bans), we never have as much information as our security agencies do, either before such an action is taken, or for that matter, afterwards. We cannot identify the anticipated danger that led to the ban. We cannot assess whether such a decision was necessary. We have no clue about whether this was the first option considered by our security agencies, or if it was the last recourse. We do not know what alternatives were considered. Do they have the right tools, the right training, the right people to make such decisions? We don't know. As of now, we also have no idea whether cutting of access to the Internet in a state received the approval of our Prime Minister, or whether he deemed this action necessary and urgent. We still don't see how pre-emptive shutdowns can be justified. 2. Security Agencies are damned if they do, damned if they don't: If they block, they're criticised. If something goes wrong, they're criticised. They do not receive praise for all the attacks that they may have prevented. Since there…
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