#KeepItOn: Open letter to the government of India on lifting internet restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir during COVID-19 pandemic

 

Publication date: 
April 2020
Author: 
Various

We, the undersigned organizations, write to reiterate our call香蕉视频app安卓 on the government of India to lift the restriction on 4G high-speed internet access in the Jammu and Kashmir region as a step toward the containment of the COVID-19 virus and related healthcare needs. 

In March 2020, the Jammu and Kashmir administration – currently directly reporting to the Indian Union Government – resorted to slowing down internet speed to 2G. This was after ending a seven-month blanket internet shutdown in the two regions following a judgment on the matter by the Supreme Court in January.

In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, which continues to claim thousands of lives globally, access to information and the free flow of communications, including for the media, is more crucial than ever, especially given the novelty of the virus and lack of a vaccine. People are relying on the internet and digital communications platforms to access life-saving information provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other public health experts. Access to accurate information is indispensable in tackling the spread of COVID-19 and it must, therefore, be the priority of every government. The internet is also playing a crucial role during the pandemic in allowing people to carry out important activities while they avoid public spaces since gathering facilitates the spread of the virus. Access to the internet is also essential for human rights defenders, activists, and journalists to carry out their work of bringing important information to the doorsteps of the people. Internet access has also made it possible for many to work from home, mitigating the significant economic harms triggered by the pandemic, while also providing meaning and continuity for people in their daily lives. 

This is not the case in Jammu and Kashmir. The absence of 4G internet has particularly hindered the work of health professionals who are on the front lines combating this global pandemic. Doctors in Jammu and Kashmir are , often waiting hours to download and access information such as guidelines for intensive care management of the virus and best practices recommended by the WHO.  The restriction of high-speed internet access has also impeded the work of human rights defenders, journalists, and other actors working in the region. 

At the same time, residents cannot easily access updates about the precautionary measures recommended by health professionals, governments, and the WHO, and often they are unable to check on the health of their loved ones and friends. has shown that the existing restrictions on 4G connectivity make video conferencing – currently a critical lifeline throughout India and across the globe – practically impossible to access and use effectively.

香蕉视频app安卓Denying citizens access to essential information about the COVID-19 virus is a flagrant violation of their right to access information, puts the lives of the residents of Jammu and Kashmir at risk, and threatens public health in India and beyond. Judicial authorities in India have already ordered the government to explain its position and rationale behind this decision impacting fundamental rights during the pandemic. A is currently pending in India’s Supreme Court while the initiated legal proceedings after noting the impact of the restriction on high-speed internet connectivity on students in the region.

香蕉视频app安卓The renewed judicial scrutiny of these unfortunate decisions to restrict internet access during this time of pandemic provides a critical opportunity for the Indian government to reconsider and review its approach. 

We, the undersigned organizations, belonging to the global #KeepItOn coalition, reprise our urgent appeal to the government of India to: 

  • 香蕉视频app安卓Immediately restore high-speed 4G internet access to full capacity to enable people in Jammu and Kashmir to be well informed and access crucial information about the virus; to ensure journalists, human rights defenders and activists have the resources to do their work;

  • Lift all restrictions on the internet and all telecommunication tools unconditionally and facilitate access to a free, open, and secure internet; 

  • 香蕉视频app安卓Explore the innovative ways in which internet access can contribute to containing the spread of COVID-19 as well as the opportunities the internet provides in empowering people and boosting development in the affected regions and nationwide;

  • 香蕉视频app安卓Work in collaboration with internet service providers and telecommunication companies in the country to ensure a free, open, and secure internet in Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of India; and

  • Implement the Supreme Court of India’s recommendation to review the text and functioning of the Telecom Network Suspension Rules of 2017.

Signed, 

Access Now

ADISI-CAMEROUN

Africa Open Data and Internet Research Foundation (AODIRF)

香蕉视频app安卓AfroLeadership

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain

香蕉视频app安卓Association Francophone pour les Droits de l’Homme

Association for Progressive Communications (APC)

香蕉视频app安卓Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE)

香蕉视频app安卓Bloggers of Zambia

Blueprint for Free Speech

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)

Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI)

香蕉视频app安卓Center for Multilateral Affairs (CfMA)

香蕉视频app安卓Chandian civil society organisation PACT 

香蕉视频app安卓Collaboration on ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA)

Committee to Protect Journalists

Democratic Transition and Human Rights support center (DAAM) 

香蕉视频app安卓Derechos Digitales

Digital Defenders Partnership (DDP)

Freedom House

Free Expression Myanmar (FEM)

香蕉视频app安卓Front Line Defenders

香蕉视频app安卓Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD)

Human Rights Watch 

香蕉视频app安卓ImpACT International for Human Rights Policies

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

香蕉视频app安卓Internet without borders

Jamii Forums, Tanzania 

Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet)

League of African Bloggers and Cyber Activists for Democracy – Africtivistes 

香蕉视频app安卓Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)

Media Institute for Southern Africa-Zimbabwe (MISA Zimbabwe)

Media Rights Agenda (MRA)

香蕉视频app安卓Open Net Africa

Open Net Korea

香蕉视频app安卓Paradigm Initiative 

香蕉视频app安卓PEN America

香蕉视频app安卓Penplusbytes

Right 2 Know Campaign  South Africa 

Unwanted Witness Uganda

WITNESS

YODET

« Go back