Internet shutdowns are a growing national menace
The internet continues to be shut down in different parts of India with increasing frequency. As stated in a recent op-ed authored by Apar Gupta, Executive Director and Raman Chima, Trustee and Co-founder of IFF, published in the Hindustan Times, "The answer has been evasion as the central government till date has refused to provide any count or centralise a reporting and disclosure system. We should not fear such data, and that such calculation may put us to shame, for even existing news reports , India enjoys the top rank as the global leader in the number of Internet shutdowns."
This is a matter of national shame. We are losing on our rights and India's continued potential to lead the knowledge and skills economy which relies on reliable internet access. We have now started reaching out to parliamentarians on this issue.
This continues our working model of activism where our public engagement is towards institutional outcomes. A short recap. We have through the #KeepUsOnline campaign reached out to 15,000 individual and 80 institutional signatories who petitioned the government to condemn internet shutdowns. We then followed it up with a series of RTIs which demonstrate the legal rules for shutdowns were made secretly, and most recently supported a legal analysis of these rules by one of the domain experts in the area, Nakul Nayak.
We will continue working against internet shutdowns, meeting people, talking to them about them and ensuring India has a better rank in 2019. Do follow our updates.
So, what is IFF doing about it?
Next stop is parliament and we are looking towards our legislators. The dates for the winter session have been announced which commences from December 11. We sensed there was a need to reach out to the offices of various legislators in advance. As subject area experts we are attempting to set up time, talk to their offices and explain this issue to them. Our hope through such knowledge sharing and to enable greater parliamentary engagement on Internet Shutdowns in India. To enable this, two volunteers (Arpitha and Hardik) authored a brief of this issue which is now being sent across alongwith meetings to put this issue across to several parliamentarians.
How can you help?
- Call on your lawmakers: We urge each person to reach out to their member of parliament and discuss this issue. Their details are readily available on the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha websites. Quite often, such conversations lead to positive outcomes. We also encourage you to email them our guide that has been prepared with minimal supervision by staff — but completely by volunteers. Click here to download our guide on Internet Shutdowns
- Help us set up a meeting: If you would like support from us, or work in the office of a member of parliament, do send us an email and our staff and volunteers will be eager to support you, have conversation and explain this issue with our skills and time. Click here to reach our policy team
- Volunteer and donate: Want to pitch in time, love the free and open internet? Help us protect for it. Describe your skills, what you hope to do. We are gradually coordinating volunteers (we have limited staff and are still learning) and building out a fighting force for digital rights in India. Also if you like our work, support us by making a donation. Each rupee received goes towards defending and fighting for digital rights in India. Click here to volunteer and help out