Suspension of Internet Services: Regulating the Ban

The Standing Committee on communications and information technology, headed by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, submitted its report on the suspension of internet services, making close to a dozen recommendations. The panel observed that Internet today is an indispensable part of everyday lives of citizens and therefore, the government should explore the possibility of banning particular internet services, such as messengers like WhatsApp and social media websites, instead of putting in place blanket internet bans. It also recommended to the Union government to issue a uniform SOP on the modalities to be adopted by all states and union territories regarding the Internet shutdown. The view of the Committee was that there is need to maintain a delicate balance between the citizens’ right to access internet to exercise their rights and the duty of the State to deal with Public Emergency and Public Safety. Talking about the economic impact, the panel said India lost 2.8 billion US dollars in 2020 to internet shutdowns. Telecom operators reportedly lose Rs 24.5 million per hour in every Circle Area where there is a shutdown, according to the Cellular Operators Association of India. In Perspective today, we will analyze the recommendations of the parliamentary panel and the impact of suspension of internet and telecom services on various aspects of lives.

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