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Government of India can block internet connectivity during national emergencies

The Indian Government has incorporated a provision under the IT Act of 2008, giving itself or any of its officers a special authority to block internet connectivity across the country during times of national emergencies. The shutdown can happen in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence and security of its states, friendly relations with foreign states or for public order.

The Indian Government has incorporated a provision under the IT Act of 2008, giving itself or any of its officers a special authority to block internet connectivity across the country during times of national emergencies. The shutdown can happen in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence and security of its states, friendly relations with foreign states or for public order. Failure to comply with this order will result in imprisonment of up to seven years.

“Where the Central government or any of its officer specially authorised by it in this behalf is satisfied that it is necessary or expedient so to do in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognisable offence relating to above, it may subject to the provisions of sub-sections (2) for reasons to be recorded in writing, by order direct any agency of the government or intermediary to block access by the public or cause to be blocked for access by public any information generated, transmitted, received, stored or hosted in any computer resource,” Article 69A of the Information Technology Amendment Act, 2008 states.

The amendment was pushed through in the weeks following the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai. Supporters of an internet ‘kill switch’ (as it is being popularly called) say it will enable countries to prevent the spread of rumours and false information during times of national crisis and help coordinate a coherent response without any sign of public panic.

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