Keep Us Online Petition

Keep Us Online > Petition

This is the full text of our petition. Add your signature to it.

Shri Narendra Modi
The Hon’ble Prime Minister's Office
South Block, Raisina Hill
New Delhi - 110011

Dear Prime Minister,

We are signing this petition asking you to — keep us online!

India had more Internet shutdowns in 2016 than any other country. Recent research estimated this caused us a loss of more than Rs. 6000 crores. A disruption to the internet is a disruption to everyday life. Research from the Centre for Communications Governance and the Digital Empowerment Foundation show that this is a growing trend - in total numbers and across states in India.

State governments are increasingly shutting off the Internet, supposedly to thwart everyone from protesters to exam cheats. Millions of people are routinely cut off on someone's whim, with zero rules or oversight. This is unacceptable. Even for stopping riots — the official justification often provided for many shutdowns — there is evidence that blackouts do more harm than good. Cutting off Internet access prevents innocent people from using the Internet to learn about trouble spots to stay away from, from reaching out for help and from making sure that loved ones are safe.

There is little evidence that that harm is even prevented by Internet shutdowns. Misinformation spreads when credible sources are inaccessible; the Internet, like other mass media, is a powerful tool to restore order. The Bangalore police has grown to understand this well — during the Kaveri riots in 2016, they used Twitter, WhatsApp, and other online channels to effectively to prevent panic and highlight police presence in volatile areas.

Internet shutdowns are unnecessary, harmful, and have no place in a democracy. It causes tremendous business loses and disrupts the vision of a Digital India. We demand credible measures to stop their indiscriminate use, including the following:

  • Clearly condemn shutdowns: A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office condemning internet shutdowns and committing to ensuring all Indian users are not frustrated in being able to exercise their right to access to the Internet.

  • Prevent Section 144 from being used for shutdowns: An interministerial direction to all state governments and Indian Police Service officers expressly stating that using Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure for internet shutdowns is illegal.

  • Reform shutdown laws: Ensure that the Constitution and other laws (the Information Technology Act, Telegraph Act) are not unlawfully bypassed to impose internet shutdowns by starting a consultation process to frame specific updated rules under these laws to restrict the ordering of shutdowns.

We believe life comes to a stop for millions of Indians when the Internet is forced to be shut down. We hope you will take steps to safeguard the growth of India into a vibrant digital nation.

Keep us online!

Copies to:

  1. Shri Manoj Sinha,
    Hon’ble Minister for Communications and Information Technology
    Sanchar Bhawan 20, Ashoka Road, New Delhi - 110001

  2. Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad,
    Hon’ble Minister for Law and Justice and Electronics and Information Technology
    Shashtri Bhawan, A-Wing, Dr. Rajendra Prasad Road, New Delhi - 110001

  3. Shri Rajnath Singh,
    Hon’ble Minister for Home Affairs
    North Block, Central Secretariat,
    New Delhi - 110001

  4. Shri Ram Sewak Sharma,
    Chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India
    Mahanagar Doorsanchar Bhawan, Jawaharlal Nehru Marg (Old Minto Road)
    New Delhi - 110002

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