"Frequent shutdown of Internet services is an indication to the fact that the State/UT Governments are resorting to this method as a convenient way to deal with any restive situations without properly assessing the effectiveness of such drastic measure in controlling such situations," the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology observed in its report on the impact of internet shutdowns in India. Tabled before the Parliament on December 9, this is the first time that the IT Committee has released a report on the matter even though India frequently ranks high on the numbers of internet shutdowns worldwide, with an AccessNow report finding that in 2020, of the155 net shutdowns that took place worldwide, 109 were in India. The 83-page report studies the state of shutdowns in India, the legal basis, loopholes, etc., and goes on to give recommendations to the government. While committee recommendations are not binding on the government, the report is crucial as it includes inputs from expert stakeholders, officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Department of Telecommunications, and features international context as well. For the complete report, please refer here. Recommendations of the committee Reforming internet shutdown mechanisms Recommendations: The committee recommended that services that can be used by terrorists/anti-social elements in times of crisis, like Facebook, WhatsApp, etc be selectively blocked instead of complete internet shutdowns. A clear-cut principle of proportionality and procedure for lifting internet shutdowns should be put in place, to prevent unnecessary extensions. DoT must take efforts to sensitise state and…
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