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Will blocking social media apps replace Internet shutdowns in India?

The recent instance in Jammu and Kashmir, where 22 social media apps have been blocked, could be a start of a new trend: blocking specific apps instead of blocking access to the entire Internet. According to a tracker from SFLC.in, the Internet has been shut down in India on 73 occasions since 2012, with as many as 31 shutdowns in 2016, and 14 already in 2017. Kashmir has been at the receiving end of most of these blocks: 31 instances since 2012, which is almost half the instances of blocking, and thrice already this year, and 10 times in 2016. Shutting down access to the Internet shuts off a significant lifeline of communications, news and commerce for people, and the Indian government has been rightly under criticism for doing this. At the same time, while there have been instances of specific websites (and URLs) being blocked by ISPs and telecom operators, I can't quite recall instances where ISPs were asked to block access to specific apps. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is new. We are, of course, not going to see a situation where current PM Narendra Modi will blacken his Twitter DP, like he did in 2012 when sites were selectively blocked by the UPA government. At that time, the government had directed ISPs to block 16 Twitter accounts, some blog posts and hundreds of web-pages featuring user-generated content on websites such as Facebook, Google+ and Youtube. Telecom operators have little choice From what I've heard, Airtel, Reliance Jio and Idea…

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Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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