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West Bengal temporarily suspends internet in six districts for TET exam

The state govt imposed an internet shutdown during the duration of the exam despite the Calcutta HC frowning on similar orders in March

no internet
Credit: Aditi Agrawal

What’s the news: Internet was temporarily shutdown in six districts of West Bengal on Sunday, December 11, 2022 to prevent cheating during the long-awaited Teachers’ Eligibility Test (TET) examination. As per a government order released by the State Home and Hill Affairs department dated December 10, the shutdown was in line with the “reasonable restrictions” put on the freedom of expression. From 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM on Sunday, the people of Uttar Dinajpur, Malda, Murshidabad, Purba Medinapur, Paschim Medinipur and Dakshin Dinajpur were only able to make voice calls and send SMS. The circular stated that Internet transmissions and voice over Internet telephony can be used for mass-cheating, copying and seeking help through malpractice. As such it said: “Any data related message or class of messages to or from any person or class of persons relating to any particular subject, brought for transmission by or transmitted or received by any telegraph within the ambit of the India Telegraph Act, 1885, shall temporarily not be transmitted in the larger public interest of conducting free and fair TET Examination 2022.” Why it matters: The Calcutta High Court on July 18 ruled that a similar order by the state to impose internet shutdowns violated laws and Supreme Court judgements. The Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) even appealed to the apex court in September against the imposition of such shutdowns “to prevent cheating." Yet, here we see that the state government has pushed through with Internet suspensions under the guise of ‘reasonable restrictions.'…

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I'm interested in the shaping and strengthening of rights in the digital space. I cover cybersecurity, platform regulation, gig worker economy. In my free time, I'm either binge-watching an anime or off on a hike.

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