Till date, their data shows 62 incidents of Internet shutdowns across various regions in 12 states in the country, with 30 being reported in 2016 itself, and 4 instances in the first month of 2017.
The tracker will also allow people to report shutdowns.
Their work also revealed that the number of shutdowns increased more than two fold from 14 in 2015 to 30 in 2016.
ET caught up with SFLC executive director Mishi Choudhary about the launch of the new portal. Excerpts:
1. Why the need for a dedicated website?
Its an application/portal within our domain which will act as a repository of all things related to Internet Shutdowns in our country.
We hope many people will join the fight and their work can also be incorporated on this portal. This is about people not about us. SFLC.in wants to facilitate the discussion around this extremely important issue and not own it.
Globally, SFLC.in has been working with Access Now on its global campaign to study and reverse the adoption of shutdown policies around the world. We acknowledge their assistance and leadership in this area.
2. What is the most startling thing about the Internet shutdowns that you've studied in India?
If these were deliberate power cuts, it would be startling. Government action in this extensive form to cripple all forms of social and economic life is startling. Its a mismatch between scale of the problem and scale of the solution offered. If its about preventing unlawful assembly, its also about imposition of a collective burden on many of a very high kind to prevent the action of a few.
The numbers of shutdowns are startling. The assumption so far in the global community has been that only non-democratically elected states
indulge in such practices but the fact that India --a vibrant democracy with a firm belief in
the procedure laid out under IT law and uses a penal code provision is startling.
3. How will the government need to evolve laws and capability to prevent shutdowns?
Government is the one imposing shutdowns. No laws need to evolve. All it needs to do is not shut the internet down. Our campaign is Keep It On
so that the Government keeps it on.
4. Is there merit in the argument that internet helps spread misinformation faster in sensitive or communal situations?
If there is merit in this argument, then it may justify imposition of reasonable restriction but bringing an entire state's business and life as we know it to a grinding halt is no "reasonable restriction" by any standard. If the state wanted to take television down, we would not have asked that question.
5. If lawmakers or security establishments feel that shutting the Internet is the only solution during tense times, what alternatives should they consider?
They should find, "less restrictive means" if they will curb people's rights.
The Supreme Court has held that Section 144 and the restriction on free speech should only be used as the last resort, when a lesser invasive alternative is not available. Section 144 is a means to curb apprehended danger and nuisance in emergencies, but its use to ban Internet access for a region is an excessive and arbitrary use of powers granted under the provision.
6. Will this increase or decrease riots as you cause people angry by disrupting their way of life?
Look at the students who cannot eat or come back from family vacation or the businessman who can no longer sell. The policeman may win today but the society loses tomorrow.
Read More News on
1 Comment on this Story
NARAYAN CHANDRA ROY1043 days ago
Internet shutdown in disturbed and terrorists inflicted area is very helpful for security purposes and can cut the area from the rest of the world for communicating and spreading the violence and hatred. So it is a step to bring normalcy in disturbed areas when it is out of control of law enforcing authority. But it should be imposed prudently as a last measures for security and maintaining law and orders to restore peace .