Internet shutdown rule challenged in Parliament

Internet shutdowns are ordered under the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services Rules, 2017, under the Telegraph Act. The rule enables state and central governments to order suspension of internet services “due to public emergency or public safety”. The rule was notified in August 2017; internet shutdowns have rapidly been increasing in the last two-three years. There were a total of 31 reported internet shutdowns in 2016 and 93 in 2018 already. The rule was challenged by Rajya Sabha MP Husain Dalwai on July 31 in the Monsoon Session of Parliament, which will last till August 10. Dalwai has called for annulment of the rule; it has to be admitted for discussion in the Rajya Sabha for it to be actually annulled.

Prior to this, the most recent reported internet shutdown took place in Arunachal Pradesh on July 29; internet services were terminated intermittently throughout the day to prevent cheating in the state public service commission examinations. In Manipur, internet services were terminated for five days following confrontation between civilians, members of Manipur University Students’ Union and the police. On July 25, internet was banned in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district and adjoining areas after an encounter broke out between the Army and militants, according to Brighter Kashmir.