The Indian government has responded to fierce criticism of its increasing use of internet shutdowns by codifying rules for when the extreme measure is allowed.
In a notification [PDF] published earlier this month, the Indian Ministry of Communications has published the process and authority required for a cutoff of internet services in the populous country.
In essence, it requires the highest-level official in charge of domestic security – the Ministry of Home Affairs for the whole country or a state’s Home Department official – to sign off on any shutdown.
However, anyone at Joint Secretary rank or higher can also order an internet shutdown “in unavoidable circumstances” or if gaining permission from the Home Department “is not feasible.” In these circumstances, the ban can only hold for 24 hours without being authorized by the Home Department.
Any shutdown order will have to come with an explanation and will be reviewed within five days by a “review committee” made up of top members of the legal, executive and administrative branches to ensure it is in accordance with the law – ie, that it was ordered “due to public emergency or public safety.”
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