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IAMAI Pushes for Central Control Over Internet Shutdowns in Letter to the Indian Government

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) wants “federal control” over these internet shutdowns imposed by state governments

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has written to the Indian government requesting it to control Internet shutdowns in the country, Reuters reported on Wednesday. The Central government should govern over shutdowns with states following the guidelines laid out by it, recommends the industry association. 'Federal control' would help streamline the execution of Internet suspensions in India said unnamed industry sources speaking to Reuters. IAMAI believes that these measures may help mitigate the uncertainties of Internet shutdowns imposed by state governments. The Indian government clarified in 2019 that 'emergency internet shutdowns' were a state matter under law and order, says Reuters.  The letter is reportedly part of the association's larger response to an ongoing stakeholder consultation on reimagining India's telecom laws. Why it matters: In Anuradha Bhasin v Union of India (2020), the Supreme Court ruled that the Right to Free Speech and Expression also 'extended to the Internet'. As a result, restrictions on accessing the Internet have to be limited and specific. As per the Judgment, Internet suspensions have to be temporary, for a defined period, and adhere to principles of proportionality and necessity. Internet suspension rules were subsequently amended to reflect the values of the Judgment. However, if Internet shutdowns are still producing 'uncertainties', as the IAMAI contends, then this may point to the fractured execution of internet suspension rules across state governments. India recorded 106 Internet shutdowns last year, the highest number globally for the fourth year running, noted an Access Now report from earlier this year. The report notes that these numbers may…

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