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Internet shutdown to quell protests against the citizenship law across various states in India has been praised by a Chinese news website.
On Tuesday, December 17, the People’s Daily Online wrote in an article: “India recently ordered a shutdown of the internet in the states… to control protests over the controversial new Citizenship Amendment Bill. It means shutting down the internet in a state of emergency should be standard practice for sovereign countries”.
Pointing at the United States – the “birthplace of the internet” – the article stated that the surveillance, monitoring and deletion of social media accounts were “routine operations”.
According to the article, the widespread internet shutdown was a “necessary regulation” that was a “reasonable choice… based on national interests (or) when there is a significant threat to national security”.
The article referred to these shutdowns and defended similar decision taken by the Chinese government in its Xinjian area when horrific ethnic violence left 140 people dead nine years ago.
As the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act intensified, several other local Internet services have been shut down.
In Jammu and Kashmir, people have been living without Internet services since August 5 this year after the government stripped the state of its special status under the Constitution.
Internet services are typically shut down when there is civil unrest to ensure that the flow of information about government actions is blocked and that there is no communication among activists. It is also done to prevent the spread of rumours and fake news.
India leads the world in the number of Internet shutdowns, with more than 100 incidents reported in 2018 alone, as per a report by Freedom House, a US-based non-profit organization that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom, and human rights.
With time, the frequency, geographic distribution, and duration of these Internet shutdowns have “increased significantly”. These shutdowns lasted for hours, weeks, and even months at a stretch.
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