Monday, May 27, 2024

Parl panel slams Centre for failure to conduct proper study on internet shutdowns

NEW DELHI, DECEMBER 12: A parliament panel has criticised the Centre for its failure to do a proper study on internet shutdowns in the economy.
There have been 782 incidents of such shutdowns since 2012, with 90 in 2023, according to the Software Freedom Law Centre.
Jammu and Kashmir leads the list with 427 incidents, with the longest for 552 days from the evening of August 4, 2019, to February 6, 2021.
The House panel has asked the Government to assess the impact of such blackouts on the economy and also find out its effectiveness in dealing with public emergencies and public safety.
“Frequent shutdown of the internet without any empirical study to prove its effectiveness in controlling law and order, civic unrest, etc. is a matter of great concern to the committee”, Shiv Sena leader Prataprao Jadhav, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Communication and Information Technology, said in the report.
The panel said it was “perplexed” with the reply of the Department of telecommunications (DoT) and deplored the indifferent attitude of the Department to such an important aspect of the subject. “The Committee, therefore, strongly urges the Department that a thorough study be commissioned by the Government of India”, it said.
According to data from global tracker Top10VPN, the economic impact of these shutdowns in India has reached Rs 2,091 crore in just the first half of 2023. In contrast, the total cost of internet shutdowns for all of 2022 was Rs 1,510 crore.
The panel noted that the records relating to shutdowns ordered by States were neither maintained by the DoT nor by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
The Committee had recommended that both the DoT and MHA should establish a mechanism to maintain a centralized database of all internet shutdown orders.
The Committee were of the view that the “presence of such a verifiable mechanism would provide the DoT/MHA a means to ascertain whether internet shutdowns have been clamped strictly as per the Suspension Rules or the order given by the Supreme Court”.
(Courtesy: TT)