What does it take to block Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram? Govt asks telcos

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The Internet is not just a means to gather a variety of information and make communication, but it is now a basic right. The denial of the right of use of the Internet will be a curb on freedom of press and expression.

In a further blow to the image, the Indian government is seeking technical measures from telecom operators for blocking mobile apps like Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram, etc in situations where national security and public order are under threat.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) on July 18, 2018, had written to telecom operators and different telecom bodies and asked for their inputs to block the applications under Section 69A of the IT Act. It cited the query was raised by the Ministry of Electronics and IT and law enforcement agencies.

The Section 69A of IT Act authorises the central government or any officer authorised by it to issue direction to block the information on Internet in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognisable offence relating to them.

For UNESCO, India tops the list when it comes to Internet shutdown, an intentional disruption of the Internet service to control communication or online content or slowing down the access to the general public.

India ranked 47th out of 86 countries when it comes to inclusive Internet and connectivity for all, said an ‘Inclusive Internet Index’ published by Facebook and Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) a few months. In Asia, the country ranked 12th out of 23 countries in terms of connectivity.

Recently, the Indian government has stiffened its noose around social media platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp in the country. It has constantly warned Facebook and asked to take measures to curb the dissemination of fake news via its platforms.

The Central government sent out a stern warning to WhatsApp last month. It asked the messaging platform to immediately stop the spread of “irresponsible and explosive messages filled with rumours and provocation” through the application of appropriate technology.

The development was first reported by HT.

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