Internet services in Odisha’s Kendrapara town and surrounding areas were suspended for 48 hours as a “preventive measure” following a clash between members of two communities, Orissa Post reported. The ban was imposed at 11:30 am on June 5, after hundreds of people staged a dharna near the Kendrapara Town Police Station on Tuesday, demanding the arrest of people of another community who had allegedly injured a middle-aged man and his two sons in Badahat village the previous day. Following this, the government claimed that some people were circulating false messages through social media, and thus decided to shut down internet services. This is the second time that Kendrapara has faced an internet shutdown this year; the previous instance was in January.
India’s rules on internet shutdowns
Internet shutdowns in India are governed by a set of rules published by the DoT in 2017, which replaced the even more arbitrary procedure of enforcement through orders issued by a District Magistrate. The current rules still enable the imposition of an internet shutdown through executive orders, but these may only be issued by a secretary to the central or state government and are subject to review by a central government committee.
Do internet shutdowns actually work?
It is debatable whether such shutdowns do a lot to help the political situation in a region. Apart from offline mobilisation, groups who wish to demonstrate publicly make use of VPN technologies to circumvent these shutdowns. Rather than enabling violence, communication online is often used to disseminate information and also send out messages asking for and providing assistance. This is apparent in the adverse affect on armed forces personnel — communication between those on duty is hampered by the removal of a fast and secure messaging-based communication channel. Online services generally employ higher encryption standards than legacy communication channels used in India, and the loss of access to these applications renders communication between the personnel more vulnerable to compromise.
43 internet shutdowns in India so far this year
According to the SFLC’s internet shutdown tracker, there have been 43 internet shutdowns in India in the first six months of 2019. Of these, 33 were in Jammu and Kashmir. Here is the list of shutdowns by state, compiled by SFLC:
Jammu & Kashmir
29/5/2019: Mobile internet was suspended after gunfight broke out in south Kashmir’s Kulgam.
25/5/2019: Internet was shutdown in Musa following insurgency.
22/5/2019: Mobile internet services were shut in Kulgam district after 2 terrorists were killed.
10/5/2019: Internet was shutdown in Baramulla district following an encounter.
3/5/2019: Shopian saw an internet shutdown after three militants were killed by security forces.
29/4/2019: As part fo phase 2 voting in Anantnag, internet services were blocked.
25/4/2019: Internet was down in J&K’s Anantnag after two militants were shot dead in the area.
18/4/2019: Mobile internet services were suspended in Kashmir parts as Lok Sabha Polls Phase 2 began.
9/4/2019: Kishtwar saw an internet outage after militants killed RSS leader Chandrakant Singh.
7/4/2019: Internet services in Tral were snapped after insurgency in the area.
5/4/2019: Srinagar saw an internet outage after clashes broke out between inmates and staff at Srinagar Central Jail
1/4/2019: Pulwama saw an internet shutdown following an encounter between militants and the army.
28/3/2019: Internet was shutdown in Pulwama after local militants attacked security forces.
22/3/2019: Mobile Internet services were suspended in Sopore.
20/3/2019: Internet service was suspended in J&K’s Shopian and Baramulla after an encounter between security forces and terrorists
19/3/2019: Mobile Internet services were suspended in Awantipora and adjoining areas.
16/3/2019: Following a brief shootout at Kujar Yaripora village of south Kashmir’s Kulgam district, mobile internet services weer suspended in the district for “precautionary measures”.
7/3/2019: Internet was shutdown in J&K’s Handwara district following insurgency in the area.
24/2/2019: Mobile internet services were suspended in Jammu and Kashmir’s border districts of Rajouri and Poonch after some unidentified masked men set fire to two shops.
22/2/2019: The Assistant Deputy Commissioner of Sopore had imposed Section 144 of the CrPC in Sopore, internet services were suspended too.
18/2/2019: Internet, in Pulwama, was shutdown yet again after a Major was killed by militants.
15/2/2019: After the Pulwama attacks, internet connectivity was snapped from the entirety of Jammu.
14/2/2019: Mobile internet services were snapped in south Kashmir after the deadly Pulwama attacks.
12/2/2019: Pulwama saw an internet shutdown yet again as a gun battle was being fought between militants and security forces.
3/2/2019: Internet service was snapped late last night as a precautionary measure in view of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Kashmir visit
26/1/2019: Mobile internet services were suspended across Kashmir on Saturday as a precautionary measure on the occasion of Republic Day.
22/1/2019: Authorities suspended the mobile internet service in south Kashmir’s Shopian district, following a gunfight in Heff Shirmal area of the district.
21/1/2019: Internet services were suspended for security reasons in central Kashmir district of Budgam after an anti-militancy operation by security forces.
12/1/2019: Internet services were blocked in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district.
8/1/2019: Authorities snapped the internet service in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district following the killing of a militant in a brief shootout in Chowduribagh area of Litter.
5/1/2019: Internet services were blocked in entire Pulwama district after the armed forces launched a cordon-and-search-operation (CASO) in Aripal village of Tral.
20/4/2019: The district administration on Saturday suspended Internet services in Sikar district in Rajasthan in the wake of rising tensions after the abduction of a newly-wed girl.
12/2/2019: Internet services were stopped in Rajasthan due to the massive Gujjar stir.
8/1/2019: Mobile internet services were suspended in Tripura after the police fired at protesters of Citizenship Amendment Bill
12/2/2019: Manipur government suspended internet for five days in the state amidst protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2018.
1/1/2019: Internet was shutdown in Bhima Koregaon
16/4/2019: Internet was banned in Asansol till April 17.
23/2/2019: Arunachal saw an internet shutdown after violence erupted during protests against Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC).
10/5/2019: Internet services remained suspended in the entire Barak valley.
13/2/2019: Internet was shutdown following the Aligarh Muslim University sedition row.