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Stop Internet Shutdowns

This petition had 404 supporters

Since 2012, access to the Internet has been cut-off 62 times across various regions in 12 Indian states upon Government orders, for reasons ranging from preventing public unrest to preventing cheating during exams. While there were 3 such "Internet shutdowns" in 2012, this number climbed to 5 in 2013, 6 in 2014, 14 in 2015, and 30 in 2016. Less than 40 days into 2017, there already have been 4 additional shutdowns across 2 states. The longest ever Internet shutdown in India was recorded in Jammu and Kashmir in 2016, when Internet access was cut-off for almost 6 consecutive months.

There clearly is a trend to be seen here, and it's a disturbing one. Access to the Internet is being cut off more and more frequently each year, for ever increasing lengths of time. Many of the conveniences of today like online shopping and online payments rely entirely on the Internet to work, and the Government too has recognized the Internet's importance by placing it at the heart of its flagship Digital India programme. Above all, the Internet gives us a platform to freely express our ideas and opinions regardless of all borders and distances, and apart from making communication faster, easier, and cheaper, this makes for truly participative democracies.

Being a PhD student at IIT Madras, I can relate specially well to the plight of the Internet-deprived. I use the Internet on a daily basis for my research, and it has been incredibly useful in providing me diverse perspectives on many issues. Considering how difficult it is to go without the Internet for even a day, I can fully understand how helpless it must feel when the Internet is frequently disrupted for days, weeks, and even months on end. It is therefore with a great sense of empathy for the affected that I am requesting the Government to put an end to this unjustifiable practice. As there are adequate provisions under existing laws to prevent access to harmful online content in the interest of public safety, I urge the Government to refrain from imposing blanket region-wide bans on Internet access. Show your support for the cause by signing the petition!

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