Indian Supreme Court finds 150-day Internet blackout in Kashmir illegal
The Indian region of Kashmir has had most Internet service blacked out since August. The government of Narendra Modi says the online blackout is a necessary security measure in the face of growing unrest in the region triggered by a change in Kashmir’s status under the Indian constitution. (Kashmir’s status within India has been a topic of controversy for decades.)
“The government says it was necessary to block the Internet to stop agitators orchestrating mass, potentially violent, protests against its decision to revoke Kashmir’s special status,” Reuters reports.
But on Friday, India’s highest court rejected the government’s rationale, arguing that the blackout violated Indian telecommunications laws.
“Freedom of Internet access is a fundamental right,” justice N. V. Ramana said.
The Kashmir blackout isn’t the only time Modi’s government has restricted Internet access in the face of protests against government policies, Reuters notes. But the 150-day blackout in Kashmir is the longest ever in India—or any other democracy.
The blackout has imposed significant hardships on area residents. People in Kashmir have found it difficult to communicate with friends and family elsewhere. And Kashmiri firms that do business outside the region have been particularly hard-hit.
The Supreme Court ruling won’t lead to an immediate restoration of Internet access in Kashmir, however. Instead, India’s highest court has given the government a week to revise its policies. The court also required the government to be more transparent about its Internet shutdown orders.
The technical storage or access is strictly necessary for the legitimate purpose of enabling the use of a specific service explicitly requested by the subscriber or user, or for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network.
The technical storage or access is necessary for the legitimate purpose of storing preferences that are not requested by the subscriber or user.
The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for statistical purposes.The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for anonymous statistical purposes. Without a subpoena, voluntary compliance on the part of your Internet Service Provider, or additional records from a third party, information stored or retrieved for this purpose alone cannot usually be used to identify you.
The technical storage or access is required to create user profiles to send advertising, or to track the user on a website or across several websites for similar marketing purposes.