Internet shutdown

It is generally seen that to prevent rumors and violent incidents, the administration has to resort to precautionary measures like internet shutdown or internet shutdown. Recently, some decisions taken by the central government, such as the repeal of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and the rumors spread in the context of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, etc. have given rise to violent protests in different parts of the country,

  • It is known that in order to stop the rumors spreading in opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act, it is completely in different states of the country like Meghalaya, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh and partly in Assam, West Bengal, Karnataka, Delhi and parts of Uttar Pradesh. Internet shutdown incidents have been recorded from.
  • Apart from the Citizenship Amendment Act, the repeal of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir was also a sensitive issue in the country, due to which there was a lot of opposition in some parts of the country, especially in Jammu and Kashmir. It is known that in Jammu and Kashmir too, in order to prevent rumors and violent incidents from the point of view of security, the government shut down the Internet on August 5, today more than 135 days have been closed in Jammu and Kashmir, but till now Internet services could not be restored there.
jammu and kashmir

What is ‘Internet Shutdown’?

  • In 2018, Software Freedom Law Center, an organization working in the field of digital freedom, released a booklet on Internet shutdowns, defining the internet shutdown as written by the government for a certain period of time. Disabling access to the Internet in more than one area is called ‘Internet shutdown’.
  • The above definition of Internet shutdown mainly consists of 2 components:
  • The first is that internet shutdown is always done by the government. Internet service providers are ordered by a certain government agency to shut down Internet services in a particular region.
  • Internet shutdown is always implemented in a particular area, where not all people in a particular area are able to use the Internet.
  • It is known that there is a partial change in the definitions given by various institutions and experts regarding internet shutdown. While selective ban is not included in Internet shutdowns in many definitions, some experts consider it to be a part of the definition of Internet shutdown.
  • Many times internet shutdown is not implemented in a particular area, it is applied to selected materials on the internet and their access to the general public is restricted.
indian telegraph act 1885

Internet shutdown in india

  • According to the data collected by the organizations working in the field of Internet freedom, since 2014, internet shutdown has been seen in almost 357 times in all the regions across the country.
  • In 2014, the number of Internet shutdowns across the country was only 6, which increased to 14 in the year 2015. The number of Internet shutdowns in the year 2016 and 2017 increased to 31 and 79 respectively which increased to 134 in the year 2018.
  • According to official statistics, in the year 2018, about 67 percent of the total internet shutdowns were recorded in India.
  • It is clear from the statistics that India has become the capital of internet shutdown worldwide.

Highest internet shutdown in Jammu and Kashmir

  • In the year 2019, a total of 93 internet shutdowns were announced in India so far, due to which a total of 167 areas were affected.
  • Out of the total internet shutdowns in India, around 56 percent (ie 53 total) shutdowns were seen only in Jammu and Kashmir, affecting a total of 93 areas.
  • Experts consider extremism and other issues related to it to be one of the major reasons for internet shutdown in Kashmir.
  • Nearly 135 days have passed since the repeal of Article 370, but Internet services have not been restored here.
  • After Jammu and Kashmir, Internet shutdown was the most frequently seen in Rajasthan 18 times.

Legal provisions related to Internet shutdown

  • CrPC Section 144

Section 144 empowers the District Magistrate, Sub-Divisional Magistrate or any Executive Magistrate empowered by the State Government to make provisions relating to the prevention of violence or disturbance.

Internet shutdown


The magistrate has to pass a written order, through which it can be directed to the people residing in a particular place or area, or to people coming or going to a particular place or area in general. Significantly, in emergency cases, the magistrate can pass these orders without any prior notice.
Statistics show that most of the Internet shutdowns recorded in India between January 2012 and April 2018 were ordered under Section 144 of CrPC. However no explicit provision is made for internet shutdown in section 144 of CrPC and an order regarding internet shutdown is given based on the interpretation of this section.

  • Section 5 (2) of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885

Although Section 144 of the CrPC is still the most commonly used provision for enforcing mass restrictions on the Internet in India, Section 5 (2) of the Telegraph Act 1885 is also often used to order Internet services to be stopped. is done.

Internet shutdown


The Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 regulates the use of wired and wireless telegraphy, telephone, teletype, radio communications and digital data communications in India.
Section 5 (2) of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 is the same as Section 144 of CrPC. Even in this section 5 (2) no special provisions have been made for internet shutdown, but such orders can be given based on the interpretation of the section.

  • Telecom Temporary Service Suspension (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017

Under the Telecom Temporary Service Suspension (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017, the Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs of the country or the competent officer of the state has been given the authority to suspend telecommunication services.

Internet shutdown effect

  • Impact on the Economy: India lost nearly US $ 968 million as a result of the Internet shutdown in 2016, according to a report released by the Brookings Institute aimed at assessing the damage caused to various countries by the Internet shutdown. Businesses adopting the online business model suffer significant losses due to the shutdown of a few hours.
  • Impact on Education: Many times we limit the Internet to only WhatsApp, Facebook or Twitter, but it needs to be noted that the Internet is not just limited to these but also a repository of internet knowledge where almost all subjects are full Content is present. When internet shutdown continues for a long time in a particular area, a lot of impact is seen on the people living in that area, especially the students.
  • Impact on Human Rights: In many countries around the world Internet shutdown is used as a tool to disrupt the functioning of the democratic process under special circumstances. Be aware that such examples have also been seen on various occasions in the past. The United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution on July 1, 2016, condemning network disruptions and measures taken by nations to curb the dissemination of online information. This proposal confirmed that there is a need to enact new laws in the offline world to protect the right to freedom of expression, especially in the online arena.

Why Internet Shutdown Unreasonable?

  • The question is, how right is it to turn off the internet again and again when the government is dreaming of making the country a Digital India. It is believed that banning the Internet causes economic harm to the country, this also jeopardizes the right to freedom of expression of the citizens of the country.
  • This is a period of time when digital communication from business to personal relationships depends on it. In such a situation, shutting down the internet not only causes inconvenience, but can also prove to be a security threat on many occasions.

Why Internet Shutdown Proper?

  • However, on some occasions this decision of the government also seems correct. If the internet had not been shut down during the Jat or Patidar agitations, the violence could have been even worse.
  • To avoid the possibility of conflict due to rumor among religious groups, it seems right to do so also.

Road ahead

  • Internet shutdowns are clearly harmful to global and local communities. Governments of different nations of the world should know how internet shutdown affects many sectors of society.
  • It is necessary that Internet shutdown is not seen as the primary option, but to solve any particular issue, the government should also consider all other non-shutdown options.
  • Governments must conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the impact of its costs before performing an Internet shutdown, as many times it has such an impact on various sectors that can cause considerable economic and social harm to the nation.

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