Mobile Internet services have been suspended in Kashmir for the past 87 days. There has been a sharp increase in both the frequency and duration of ICT shutdowns in the past two years. We have been tracking ICT shutdowns since 2012 as part of our research for the Freedom on the Net- India Report (2014 and 2015).
In 2012 there was only one incident of ICT shutdown (three including the Republic and Independence days). The Jammu & Kashmir government blocked telecom services in order toprevent users from uploading or downloading the film Innocence of Muslims. This is a rare instance of a shutdown in which the government order is publicly available. Most of the Internet shutdowns have been without any procedural transparency.
Jammu & Kashmir has been suspending mobile Internet on the Republic and Independence Days since 2005, with Republic Day 2015 being an exception. In 2013 there were three instances of ICT shutdowns (four including Republic Day) – all in the state of Jammu & Kashmir.
In 2014, Jammu & Kashmir blocked ICT services four times (including on Republic Day and Independence Day) and the State of Gujarat once. Gujarat ordered the block after 2 people were stabbed in Vadodara in clashes between two communities subsequent to the circulation of an image on Facebook which was considered offensive to Islam.
Since 2014 there has been a massive spike in the incidents of ICT shutdowns in India. We found that 11 Indian states have shutdown the Internet 37 times since 2015 with 22 of those instances in the first nine months of 2016.
We have written extensively on Internet Shutdowns in the past year. For an analysis of the legal issues in case of Internet shutdowns please see:
- Demarcating a safe threshold
- The Anatomy of Internet Shutdowns – I (Of Kill Switches and Legal Vacuums)
- The Anatomy of Internet Shutdowns – II (Gujarat & Constitutional Questions)
- The Anatomy of Internet Shutdowns – III (Post Script: Gujarat High Court Verdict)
- Internet Shutdowns: An Update
Crossposted with permission from CCG at NLU Delhi.