India's Supreme Court Declares Country's 5 Month Internet Blackout Illegal

from the self-inflicted-wound dept

As we've been discussing, India's government has blacked out internet access in Kashmir since around August, setting records for one of the longest government-mandated internet blackouts in history. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has tried to argue that the blackout is a necessary security precaution in the face of growing unrest in the region stemming from its loss of autonomy earlier this year. Granted like most government internet censorship efforts, the move has a lot more to do with cowardice and fear of an informed public than any genuine concern about public welfare.

Fast forward to this week, and India's Supreme Court has warned that the blackout is clearly illegal:

"In a blow to the Hindu nationalist government of the prime minister, Narendra Modi, the country’s highest court said the expression of opposition to state policy could not justify the crackdown. The court said any suspension of the internet, which it called intrinsic to free speech, must be accompanied by detailed reasons to allow aggrieved persons to challenge it in court.

The ruling came in response to petitions filed by Anuradha Bhasin, the executive editor of the Kashmir Times, the opposition Congress party leader, Ghulam Nabi Azad, and others. "The ruling shows that liberty and security have to be balanced. The court has made it clear that it is people’s freedoms that are paramount, not the government’s agenda,” said Sushmita Dev of the Congress party."

After some initial complaints Modi's government restored landline connectivity, and at least some text messaging services were restored at the tail end of December. Still, many in the region have found the outages make it impossible to maintain contact with loved ones and to find those who have been lost in the conflict. And while the Indian courts have clearly noted that the blackout violates free speech and basic human rights, the ruling effectively leaves it up to Modi's government to do the right thing, or at least be more transparent about doing the wrong thing, something that doesn't seem particularly likely:

"In principle the ruling is good, though it has taken a long time. But in terms of immediate relief, there is none. The court has left it to the administration to decide,” said Bhasin."

The human cost of the blackout has been monumental, and studies have shown that internet shutdowns have cost the Indian economy around $1.3 billion in 2019 alone. And while Modi's government continues to insist the blackouts are essential to preserve security and stability in the region, the reality remains that such efforts are the last refuge of cowards who simply don't want their citizens informed as to the scope of the government's aggressive and sometimes fatal buffoonery.

Filed Under: india, internet blackout, kashmir


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  1. icon
    Norahc (profile), 14 Jan 2020 @ 8:30am

    studies have shown that internet shutdowns have cost the Indian economy around $1.3 billion in 2019 alone.

    That's a lot of tech support scammers out of work.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2020 @ 8:33am

    Re:

    Racism is never funny.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2020 @ 9:16am

    if India is anything like the USA, which i suspect it is, the government will ignore that court ruling and try to do whatever the hell it likes!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Thad (profile), 14 Jan 2020 @ 9:20am

    Re:

    Haha, it's funny because it's a racial stereotype.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2020 @ 10:37am

    Re: Re:

    Racism is never funny.

    I don't know about that. The movie "Undercover Brother" is one racial stereotype after another, and it's hilarious.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    Norahc (profile), 14 Jan 2020 @ 11:15am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Not to mention Blazing Saddles.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2020 @ 11:34am

    Re: Re:

    Racism is thought to be one of the biological origins of humor, like bodily functions. Humor is an evolutionary development to diffuse social conflict and friction without resorting to violence.

    In most people, it's about as funny as toilet humor.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    bhull242 (profile), 14 Jan 2020 @ 2:10pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    In most people, [racism is] about as funny as toilet humor.

    In that for a few it’s hilarious, for some it’s mildly amusing at best, for others it’s low-hanging fruit and indicative of immaturity, and for others still it’s patently offensive.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jan 2020 @ 7:08pm

    Re:

    Wrong part of India, i think.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jan 2020 @ 7:13pm

    I rather suspect unrest would be that last thing being quelled with the actions taken against Kashmir. But i also suspect that is just fine with the BJP and RSS.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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