Internet partially restored in Kashmir after 165 days — social media still blocked

Internet partially restored in Kashmir after 165 days —  social media still blocked
Credit: Photo by Leon Seibert on Unsplash

After last week’s Supreme Court judgment ruling indefinite internet shutdowns in India illegal, authorities in Jammu and Kashmir have ordered a partial restoration of connectivity today.

A notice published by the Home Department of Jammu and Kashmir suggests broadband services (with mac-Binding) will be provided to select institutions such as hospitals, hotels, and banks. Plus, 2G connectivity for postpaid users will be restored in the districts of Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Udhampur and Reasi.

However, only ‘white-listed’ sites such as e-banking services will be accessible; VPN services and social media apps will be still inaccessible. The department also intends to set up 400 internet kiosks for tourists.

The government blocked internet access back in August with an intention to maintain law and order when it scrapped Article 370 of the constitution that stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its autonomy. The internet shutdown is the longest-running blockage in a democracy — currently standing at 164 days and counting.

As Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), an agency working on digital rights, pointed out, 96.8 percent of folks in the region depend on mobile internet. So, the partial lift of the ban will still leave many people without connectivity. The organization also said severe restrictions impair freedom of speech of internet users of J&K.

As the order points out, these restrictions will be in place for the next seven days. We’ll have to wait and see if the government relaxes these norms after a week.

Errata: We previously noted that 2G services would be restored in the valley; this is incorrect. These services were only scheduled to be restored in districts in Jammu. We regret the error, and we’ve updated the post to correct this.

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