Dear Prime Minister KeepUsOnline
Just like you, we really do care about the internet. It acts as an engine for our economy, allows incredible amounts of individual expression and fosters social connections like never before. Much of the progress we have made is under threat as governments shut down the Internet in different parts of the country. That's why we launched https://KeepUsOnline.in.
Given this continuing concern, we have written to the Prime Minister’s Office to issue a statement against internet shutdowns and have also urged government ministries to take specific steps for legal and administrative reform. For instance one of our demands is the disclosure of a recent direction from the Department of Telecom which seems to bring some limitation asking network disruptions to be shouldn’t be the, “first line of call”. (Greater Kashmir, DoT To States, J&K: Internet Suspension shouldn’t be the first line of call [April 16, 2018].
Despite the central government making new rules late last year in August read about them here, not much has changed. The new rules reinforce and provide a legal basis to shutting down the internet for vague reasons, without transparency and little oversight. A recent press report found even these rules are not being properly enforced when it noted, “In the past fortnight, six states have used internet shutdowns to control law and order crises. They are West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan. But of these, only two states – Madhya Pradesh and Punjab – followed the procedure laid down in rules notified by the Centre in 2017.” (Scroll.in, India’s Internet Shutdown: Most States block services without following new rules [April 7, 2018]).
Apar Gupta, co-founder, IFF said, “In 2016, India shutdown the internet more than any other country. This is a shameful statistic. It sets back the goals of a vibrant digital India and our fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. It flies in the face of not only rights but logic given it is counterproductive to any public policy goal such as maintaining and restoring normalcy when there is a breach of law and order. For instance the internet is used by people when there are physical curfews to tell their loved ones and pass messages for safety. It impacts businesses causing thousands of crores of losses. It impacts government services for instance lawyers cannot access court websites and plan and prepare for the cases listed the next day. Even with the new rules, which require a thorough review, transparency remains a problem. There is no central database or disclosure on the number of internet shutdowns and we have been reduced to rely on underreported and faulty data sets based on episodic media stories. Even based on incomplete data, internet disruptions show little abatement in the present year. We urge the Prime Minister’s Office and relevant government ministries to hear the voice of many Indians, notably 16,000 people and 100+ organisations who signed a petition and have urged the government to KeepUsOnline.in”.
- Link to our letter dated April 20, 2018 (link).
- Watch the AIB video explaining shutdowns by visiting (KeepUsOnline.in)
The Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) is an non-profit organisation that supports and advocates for a free and open Internet. We are a group of volunteers from the SaveTheInternet.in movement. We come from all over India, from different backgrounds and fields, including technology, law, policy, design, journalism. We aim to promote the rights of Internet users – freedom of speech, privacy, net neutrality and freedom to innovate.
- Apar Gupta, Trustee and Co-Founder (09990000256);
- Rachita Taneja, Trustee and Co-Founder (07760052603);
Internet Freedom Foundation online: