This website tracks incidents of Internet shutdowns across India to draw attention to the troubling trend.
City-based not-for-profit legal services organisation SFLC today launched a website 'internetshutdowns.in' which provides data related to Internet bans in India since 2013.
"Internet shutdowns are a global, not merely an Indian problem. SFLC.in has been working with Access Now on its global campaign to study and reverse the adoption of shutdown policies around the world. We acknowledge their assistance and leadership in this area," SFLC.in President and Legal Director Mishi Choudhary said in a statement.
Internetshutdowns.in will provide policy makers, academics, media persons and the general public at large with a repository of instances where blanket bans on Internet services, either mobile or fixed line, were imposed in India, the statement said. As per internet shut down tracker, the number of shutdowns increased more than two-fold from 14 in 2015 to 30 in 2016, the statement said.
Till date, their data reflects 62 incidents of Internet shutdowns across various regions in 12 states in the country, with 30 being reported in 2016 itself, and 4 instances in the first month of 2017, it added.
"The shutdowns in 2015-16 cost Indian businesses an estimated amount of USD 968 million (Rs 6,485 crore). As the pace of shutdowns increases, the costs will mount, particularly given the new emphasis on transactions by Internet payment systems linked to Aadhaar," Choudhary said.
Shutdowns are a very imprecise means of achieving any social end, imposing immense collateral damage, she added. "In democracies, essential social facilities should not be turned off by the state, which acts in the peoples' interests. The dependence on mobile Internet services for public safety and order, education, business, and family life is a fact of our existence," Choudhary said.
She, further said that it should not be "intentionally broken by government, pursuing one form of 'law and order' at the expense of all other social functioning." internetshutdowns.in hosts a continually-updated Internet Shutdown Tracker for India which will offer detailed records of all shutdowns reported since 2013 and presents the data. It also contains an analysis of the legality of such incidents in the country.
Besides, a study of the shutdown trends in India based on the medium that was restricted, duration of shutdown as well as the nature of the measure whether if it was preventive or reactive in action, it said.