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“The Center should be the sole governing authority to issue net closures”

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The Center should be the “authoritative authority” to issue internet shutdown orders and state governments should only issue such orders based on guidelines established by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), an industry body representing some of the world’s largest technology and telecommunications companies. country said.

The current mechanism for issuing internet shutdown orders is causing “significant inconvenience to the local general public”, the Indian Internet and Mobile Association (IAMAI) said in a letter to the government. Telecom operators Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio are members of IAMAI, which also counts Big Tech companies like Google, Meta and Apple among its members.

His comments are part of his submission to the DoT, which is finalizing a new legal framework to govern India’s telecommunications sector.

“Temporary shutdown/closure orders within an area/district/state shall only be made through a DoT approved SOP, and the telegraph being a subject of the Union, only the government central should be the governmental authority in this regard,” the letter read. “The current ad hoc requests and orders to shut down internet services in one area are causing significant inconvenience to the local public as a whole.”

Jio and Airtel did not respond to an immediate request for comment.

Currently, internet shutdown orders are governed by the Telecommunications Services Temporary Suspension (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017. The rules framed by the DoT state that temporary suspensions may be “due to a public emergency or public safety,” and give senior Home Office officials at central and state levels the power to order shutdowns.

Because state governments have the authority to issue internet shutdown orders, the Center does not keep any data on the number of such orders made by them. Last month, Minister of State for Communications Devusinh Chauhan told parliament that the Center does not have any centralized data on internet shutdowns, as the matter concerns law and order which is the domain of states. .

However, according to civil society estimates, India has imposed the maximum number of internet shutdowns for at least the past four years. According to a report by global digital rights group Access Now, India imposed up to 106 internet shutdowns last year. In a report released earlier this year, internet company top10vpn.com said internet shutdowns – ordered by the country’s central, state and district authorities – lasted 1,157 hours in total, resulting in a loss of 583 million in 2021. These closures affected 59.1 million people. India was third in the total duration of national internet outages, behind Myanmar and Nigeria, with outages of 12,238 and 5,040 hours, respectively.