J&K Lifts Ban on Social Media

After seven months, the Jammu and Kashmir administration revoked the ban on social media although mobile Internet speeds would be restricted to 2G till further orders.

The absence of whitelist websites with the latest order –– which the administration used to publish with similar orders earlier—meant that all websites, including social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms could be accessed.

“If there is no white or black list with the government’s order, it means every website can be accessed now,” Inspector General of Police (Kashmir) Vijay Kumar said. The last government order issued on February 25 included a list of 1,674 whitelisted websites that could be accessed. Kumar, as per the government order, has been asked to ensure communication of these directions to service providers and ensure implementation of the directions. J&K government’s principal secretary (Home) Shaleen Kabra stated in an order that Internet speed would be restricted to 2G but Internet on pre-paid mobile phones will not be made available unless the connections are verified as per the norms applicable for post-paid connections. “On fixed lines (broadband), Internet connectivity shall continue to be made available with Mac-Binding,” read the government order.

The government order stated that the facilities provided by the government including e-terminals and Internet kiosks, apart from special arrangements for tourists, students and traders will continue. The latest government directions would remain in force till March 17, when they will review the situation. Locals were circumventing the social media ban through the use of virtual private networks, even when service providers were busy setting up firewalls, though unsuccessfully, to scuttle any social media use. The J&K government snapped all forms of communication, including fixed lines and mobile Internet, on August 5, 2019, ahead of the passing of the J&K Reorganisation Bill in Parliament on August 5 and 6 through which special status of J&K was revoked. Internet ban has adversely impacted all sections of society with people losing businesses, jobs and livelihood. Students have been unable to apply for scholarships, fellowships, appear in examinations or attend conferences. The government resumed the communication in a phased manner since the last week of September last year.

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