We demand disclosure on India's shutdown law #KeepUsOnline

Last week we made considerable progress in our mission to reform India’s Internet Shutdown laws. This work has been extensively covered by The Wire in an opinion piece titled, “The Worst Aspect of India’s Internet Shutdowns Is the Official Secrecy About It”, and “Jan Gan Man Ki Baat, Episode No. 271”.

A Short Recap

  • Noticing a growth in the frequency of internet shutdowns and constrained by the lack of movement for reform, on April 22, 2018, we sent a petition to several government ministries and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
  • On May 09, 2018 the IT ministry said that the issue was within the jurisdiction of the Department of Telecom (DoT), and similarly our petition from the PMO was transferred to the DoT on April 24, 2018. At this point, we were cautiously optimistic and hoped for a substantive response from the DOT.

Thereafter we received a one-page reply from the DOT on June 15, 2018. The response dismissed our petition and call for reforms stating, “the other additional issues raised in your reference, such as, increasing number of internet shutdowns, procedures not being followed by State Governments, public inconvenience due to such shutdowns, etc. had already been duly considered while formulating the rules referred above and the consensus is that Security and Safety of the Citizens and the State are paramount and cannot be compromised in any circumstances”.

We are disappointed with this outcome and will keep pressing these demands. However, we also seek information on these purported consultations.

Follow up action

We have been using the RTI process to demand disclosure of the process under which the Shutdown Rules, 2017 were made given the response from DOT relies on it to address all our concerns. Our follow up action includes:

  • On June 28, 2018, we filed a RTI request requesting for information on the process for formulation and stakeholder consultations on the Shutdown Rules, 2017.
  • On July 02, 2018 our RTI was denied with the sole reasoning being a reference to Section 8(1)(i) of the RTI Act.
  • On July 4, 2018, we filed a first appeal against this decision.

Link to our correspondence:

For previous correspondence please refer to our earlier updates on internetfreedom.in. We are thankful to Sai Vinod, Advocate for assisting us with the RTI process.

About us

Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) is a non-profit organisation that supports and advocates for a free and open Internet. We are a group of volunteers from the SaveTheInternet.in movement. We come from all over India, from different backgrounds and fields, including technology, law, policy, design, journalism. We aim to promote the rights of Internet users – freedom of speech, privacy, net neutrality and freedom to innovate.

Contacts

Internet Freedom Foundation online: