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Govt asks telecom companies to throttle mobile Internet speeds in Kashmir

The government is changing tactics to curtail information and the spread of rumours in the Kashmir valley. Telecom companies were directed by the government to throttle mobile Internet speeds in Kashmir on Sunday. Currently, 3G and 4G services have been asked to be brought down to 2G speeds, ANI News reported.

This was enforced under Section 144 of the CrPC as the state government is trying to impose law and order. One CRPF sub-inspector lost his life and two security personnel were injured after terrorists opened fire on a convoy near the army cantonment. Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) claimed responsibility for the attack, India Today said in a report.

Curb use of social media

The state government tried another tactic to check the spread of rumours in April and had banned 22 social media services. This included Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, YouTube (upload), Vine, Google+, QQ, WeChat, Qzone, Tumblr, Skype, Viber, Line, Snapchat, Pinterest, Telegram, Reddit, Snapfish, Xanga, Buzznet, Flickr and Baidu. Although Aroon Deep suggests that this list could have been compiled from here.

But telecom companies struggled to comply with the order as BSNL officials said that they were unable to block the 22 services without freezing the internet across the Himalayan region, Mint reported.

Around the same time, two United Nations human rights experts have called on India to restore internet and social media networks in Jammu and Kashmir. The two experts, David Kaye and Michael Forst, said that “The scope of these restrictions has a significantly disproportionate impact on the fundamental rights of everyone in Kashmir, undermining the Government’s stated aim of preventing dissemination of information that could lead to violence”.

Kashmir mobile internet shutdowns

Due to unrest in the Kashmir Valley, there have been a large number of Internet shutdowns in the region. Mobile internet was snapped in Kashmir on June 16 following the death of a youth. Naseer Ahmed succumbed to injuries he received in a firing in Srinagar.

In the months of April, May and June, there had been four mobile Internet shutdowns in different parts of the country. The latest was on May 29 in Jammu and Kashmir after militant Sabzar Bhat was killed in an encounter. Internet was cut for a week in this instance. Internet services were cut twice in April. Internet services were cut on April 18 following student protests across universities and colleges. The incident was sparked as some students in Pulwama Degree College were beaten by government forces.  On April 8, both broadband and mobile Internet services were suspended on the eve of the by-polls to the Srinagar Parliamentary seat.

On 6th December 2016, MediaNama had held a discussion in Delhi, on issues related to Internet Shutdowns, with support from Facebook and STAR India . The following are notes based on these discussions. Read Part 1 herePart 2 here and Part 3 here

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