New Delhi, August 10 2018: The Department of Telecom has asked telecom operators to devise a way by which the popular social media apps, including WhatsApp, Facebook, Telegram and Instagram, can be blocked during situations that pose threat to national security.
The move comes against the background of fake news, which has been said to be thye the trigger for several cases of mob lynching.. and conerns that such news may be used to influence the 2019 general elections.
The DoT letter said in a letter dated July 18: “You are …requested to explore various possible options and confirm how the Instagram/Facebook/WhatsApp/Telegram and other such mobile apps can be blocked on internet.” DoT which had sent a similar letter on June 28 and has once again sent a reminder on August 3.
The blocking, implemented, would be under section 69A of IT Act.
In a quick reaction, the telecom industry body Cellular Operators Association of India has said "It is extremely difficult, if not near impossible, to categorically block apps,” COAI Director General Rajan S. Mathews added : "We think that... application-level shutdown is extremely difficult, if not near impossible. So, we should look at more effective ways of trying to address the issue,"
|Industry association ASSOCHAM, has said that blocking the apps or sites would be "excessive, unnecessary and would greatly harm India's reputation as growing hub of innovation in technology.”|Early media reaction topo, has been disapproving: Two editorials:
Financial Express: And what happens after WhatsApp is blocked?
Govt can’t block every messaging service, including e-mail. But, if lynchers quickly sentenced, impact will be salutary...
Business Standard Shooting the messenger
Blanket ban on internet and apps ill-advised... such a ban would violate the fundamental right of free speech