Four other districts in the state joined Shillong in suspending Internet services; Despite rising numbers, the government claimed it had no data on Internet shutdowns.
According to a press release from the Prime Minister of Meghalaya, Shillong’s Internet service ban was extended for the third year in a row yesterday when reports of violence in the state followed death of a former fighter.
According to a report by Access Now, India had the highest number of internet shutdowns in the world, with 109 out of 155 net shutdowns worldwide in 2020. Last year, the Supreme Court heard pleadings contesting the curbs imposed in Jammu and Kashmir following the repeal of Article 370 explained Access to the Internet a fundamental right. It also asked judges who sign such restrictions to “use their wits” and “follow the doctrine of proportionality”.
What the internet shutdown notification says
While the Shillong ban was extended on Aug. 15, the Meghalaya Home Office issued a notice restricting mobile internet in four other counties in the state. The notice cited reports from police headquarters of vandalism and arson.
In the notice viewed by MediaNama, Interior Ministry (Police) Secretary CVD Diengdoh said: “Messaging systems such as WhatsApp and SMS, as well as social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are likely to be used for transmitting information via images , Texts and videos and have the potential to cause serious disruption to Law & Order. “
These districts that border the state capital Shillong are
- East Kasi Hill
- Western Khasi Hills
- South West Khasi Hills
- Ri-Bhoi districts
Laws to Shut Down the Internet
According to an amendment to the regulations for the temporary suspension of telecommunications services passed in November 2020, Internet shutdown orders can only be valid for 15 days at a time. Only the Secretary of State, independently or at the direction of the Secretary of the Interior Ministry, can order a blocking of the internet according to the rules, which also require due procedures such as the formation of a review committee after a blocking.
Internet Shutdowns: A Look At Past Incidents
- In March, internet services in Bhainsa, a town in northern Telangana, were shut down following clashes at the municipal level. Mobile internet was shut down in the city to prevent people from sharing content that could make the situation worse.
- The Ministry of Interior ordered telecommunications operators to provide Internet services in Singhu, Tikri, and Ghazipur. adjust in January of this year for “maintaining public security and averting a public emergency” amid peasant protest. The internet was blocked in these areas from 11pm on January 29th to 11pm on January 31st. Telecommunications sources have confirmed to MediaNama that they have received the order from the Ministry of Interior.
- The government of Haryana has discontinued internet and text messaging services in several areas of the state after clashes between farmers and law enforcement agencies in Delhi in January. The closure was ordered in the Sonipat, Palwal and Jhajjar districts and was in effect until January 27 at 5 p.m. The government claimed it was closing these services in order to contain misinformation about the clashes, which could be spread via social media platforms or text messages.
- Internet services have been discontinued in several areas of the National Capital Territory on January 26 following clashes between farmers (who protested the proposed agricultural laws) and law enforcement agencies. The order issued by the Ministry of Interior said that Internet services in Singhu, Ghazipur, Tikri, Mukarba Chowk, Nangloi and “adjacent areas” would be suspended.
- The government of Rajasthan suspended mobile internet services in several parts of the Jaipur district in November 2020 in the wake of the ongoing Gujjar agitation. The mobile internet was switched off for 24 hours on November 2nd from 5:00 p.m. in the Tehsils (blocks) of Kotputli, Paota, Shahpura, Viratnagar, Jamwaramgarh, Phagi, Madhorajpura, Dudu and Mojmabad. All internet services with the exception of broadband services have been switched off.
- Rajasthan has shut down the internet in four counties – Dungarpur, Udaipur, Banswara and Pratapgarh – in September 2020, after violent protests broke out in Dungarpur district, the Hindustan Times reported reported. Hundreds of tribal youths reportedly blocked the No. 8 National Road in Dungarpur, demanding that over 1,100 unreserved government teacher positions be filled with ST candidates.
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