The government of India, via the Ministry of Communications, in a letter dated 18th July 2018, sought inputs from telecom operators and ISPs with Gateways, requesting to “explore various possible options and confirm how the Instagram/Facebook/WhatsApp/Telegram and other such mobile apps can be blocked on internet.” In the letter, of which MediaNama has a copy, the Ministry said that “Issues have been raised by MeitY and LEAs for blocking of certain mobile apps like Instagram/Facebook/WhatsApp/Telegram etc. This issue was also raised during the meeting on 04.07.2018 wherein technical inputs were sought from TSPs/ISPs to explore the possibility of blocking certain mobile applications”. On August 1st 2018, Industry association ASSOCHAM, representing the telecom operators, sent a detailed response to the government of India, citing the letter, and saying that the move would “greatly harm India’s reputation as a growing hub of innovation in technology”, is "excessive" and "unnecessary", and for realising the vision of Digital India, we need a "clear and predictable legal framework grounded on fairness, proportionality and the rule of law." A few points to note: Government of India has blocked social media apps before: On the 17th of April 2017, the Indian government had banned 22 social media apps in Jammu & Kashmir, including Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, YouTube (upload), Vine, Google+, QQ, WeChat, Qzone, Tumblr, Skype, Viber, Line, Snapchat, Pinterest, Telegram, Reddit, Snapfish, Xanga, Buzznet, Flickr and Baidu. That list was apparently picked up from a random webpage on the Internet listing social media apps. More details here.…
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