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Cannot allow Big Tech to unplug India from the internet: Rajeev Chandrasekhar

Actions by major tech companies in the Russia-Ukraine conflict is serving as a wake-up call.

It's not a good thing for any company or country to have the power to unplug India from the internet, Minister of State for IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar told The Hindu in an interview on April 26. "We are going to have a trillion-dollar digital economy in a few years, and a large number of businesses will be on the Indian Internet, so the Internet becomes an important economic component of our country. So if anybody has the power to unplug the Internet, it's not a good thing. We don't like the idea that any country should be, could be, must be, can be, vulnerable to that kind of conduct – politically directed conduct, or any blackmail directed conduct," Chandrasekhar said. Chandrasekhar made these comments in response to a question on how India should react after witnessing the role and influence of Big Tech in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. Most major companies and platforms have stopped serving Russian users either due to sanctions imposed by western countries or on their own. For example, major social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube imposed curbs on Russian state-controlled media and on Russian advertisements, companies like Microsoft and Apple stopped selling their products, and payment companies like Mastercard and Visa stopped offering their services. "We have to ensure that we cannot be unplugged; intermediaries will have to play by the rules and laws of India. The weaponisation of the Internet, or "splinternet," is something we need to plan not being vulnerable to. It is an objective for us," Chandrasekhar said. Are we staring at new regulations targeted at international companies? Back when the Russian–Ukraine conflict…

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