Internet Shutdown: As far as growth is concerned, the Internet connection is working as a boon for every nation. It ensures to connect everyone whether to maintain relationships, business firms, two or more nations and so on. But considering political and national security, state orders to block internet service have become “normal” for many nations. Are they justified?
Recent trends of shutting down internet services in India are very perpetual. We have come across many instances where this service is interrupted in the name of the nation by the government. We are among the topmost countries with maximum shutdowns. According to #KeepItOn Coalition, India stoop responsible for 67% of the world’s reported shutdowns. Mostly, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, UP, and Maharashtra were facing. In 2016, the United Nations has unanimously declared that the Internet is the fundamental right.
There are unlimited examples of this practice in recent days. Almost every state of India has suffered from this blockage. Taking abrogation of Article 370 on 4th August 2019, we can witness internet shutdown for more than 3 months. It is the longest case ever occurred in a democratic country. There was a complete blackout and nobody elsewhere in the country has information that what is happening there. To maintain peace and smooth political steps government is defending this step. The ministers have this defense that due to misleading information through the internet the breakdown of law and order takes place more frequently. Every fake rumor would result in more damage to human life and property. There are many other examples like no internet service in North East states, Uttar Pradesh and New Delhi during Citizenship Amendment Act aristocracies, Zero internet for a week in Haryana during Ram Rahim Case and so on.
Taking every reason from the government side, we all listen to the fact of spreading fake news resulting in more communal and group violence. But from research, it has been recorded that this practice always results in more violent protests and strikes. People regard the authority of the state as undemocratic. Our social, economic, political, civil and cultural rights suffer. People are losing their social relations and important works. These shutdowns are detrimental in every aspect and causing great economic loss. For example, in 2018 the Democratic Republic of Congo faced the economic cost of US $3 million per day due to internet shutdown.
Most importantly, the local economy of that area gets affected which is directly linked to local masses. People have a routine to stay connected with their relatives through the internet to share news and knowledge. They claim that it always leads to a lack of freedom of speech and expression that violates fundamental rights and human rights. Social media is a tool of the young generation to show their views on political trends. It is taken away from them and that is the new form of authoritarianism. Everybody is unable to hold the government accountable and answerable. Many government schemes like digital payments, public distribution systems and so on face interruptions to a great extent. India is facing many international critiques that will result in low investment in the future as predicted.
In a democratic country, the government is accountable and answerable in its spirits. There should be a proper defined rationale behind this practice. It must take into consideration every sphere that harms the local people. As per now, during every shutdown, the consequences are only socio-economic losses and violations of human rights. Blocking transparency is no way to promote rules and regulations.