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IT Parliamentary Committee questions Home Ministry over whether internet shutdowns work

no internet
Credit: Aditi Agrawal

In a deposition before the Parliamentary Committee on IT, representatives of the Home Ministry and Delhi and Bihar state governments were clueless about whether internet shutdowns are effective, or on the metrics that determine their effectiveness. The Home Ministry was unaware of the number of internet shutdowns that had been ordered in the country. The representatives said that they would check and inform the Committee in the next meeting. It is understood that the Home Ministry and the two state governments maintained that internet shutdowns are essential to stop violence during riots and maintain law and order. However, they could not establish the causality between internet shutdowns and curbing riots, despite being asked to do that. It is understood that members of the committee asked the government representatives how riots were curbed before the advent of internet. Internet was shut down in the national capital for the first time in December 2019 during the anti-CAA protests and Bihar has had its internet services shut down at least 11 times since 2016, as per SFLC.in’s tracker. According to the tracker, internet services have been snapped in the country 66 times in 2020, without including the sustained internet restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir where 4G services have been restored in only two of the twenty districts of the new union territory. The two-hour long meeting, that saw participation from ten members, primarily discussed how internet shutdowns are used during riots. The next meeting is scheduled for October 27. The demand for grants…

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