Indian government wrote a letter to Telecom Operators and Internet Service Providers Association of India on 18th July. Ministry of Communications of Indian government has asked for their input regarding various possible options to block Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, and Telegram. The issue was raised in a meeting in July when the technical inputs were requested from TSPs/ISPs to check the chances of blocking some mobile apps.
Industry Association ASSOCHAM sent a comprehensive response to the Indian Government and warned them that this move could affect India’s reputation as a growing hub of innovation and technology. The Indian government placed a ban on 22 social media apps in Jammu and Kashmir including Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp, YouTube, Skype, and Snapchat.
United Nations experts suggested that India restore the social media networks and internet in the region since these bans are affecting the fundamental rights of everyone living in that region. India’s Minister for IT Ravi Shankar Prasad presented outline measures which are planned to attribute accountability to platforms.
- Intermediaries must have offices in India
- Make sure that malicious messages can be traced to their source of origin
- Locate a grievance officer in India
- Ensure that their platforms are not used to promote hatred, terrorism, mob violence and money laundering.
ASSCHAM responded to these measures as:
- The present framework under the IT Act and Telegraph Act have ineffective safeguards and no recourse mechanism. The blocking orders, as a result, are frequently overboard and have unintended consequences and cause significant harm to the economy.
- Present content moderation measures are disproportionately provided that platforms address unlawful content
- Blocks can be circumvented by VPNs
- A study by ICRIER claimed that the apps contributed USD 20 billion to India’s GDP in 2015-2016.
- These blocking measures will impact the online usage of innocent consumers negatively.