According to the petition, the internet was shut down in at least nine states in December 2019.

Comedian Kunal Kamra starts petition against internet shutdowns by Indian govt
news Internet Shutdowns Tuesday, January 07, 2020 - 19:16

Comedian Kunal Kamra has started a petition against the routine use of internet shutdowns by governments and the need for reform of existing rules.

The petition, addressed to Information and Broadcasting Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, asks the minister to issue an advisory to all state governments, advising them against using “communication shutdowns” routinely. It also asks Ravi Shankar Prasad to “undertake a comprehensive reform process of existing legal rules given the negative impact of communication shutdowns on our fundamental rights, Indian society and the economy.”

At the time of writing, 72,539 people had signed the petition.

This comes at a time when India has been called the ‘Internet shutdown capital of the world’. According to online tracker Internet Shutdowns, India witnessed 106 shutdowns in 2019.

According to the petition, the internet was shut down in at least nine states — Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Delhi, Karnataka, Kashmir, Meghalaya, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal — in December 2019.

Kamra, who is known to be fiercely critical of the current government, stated, “Communication shutdowns encourage violent forms of protest which require less planning and coordination than peaceful, collective action. Access to the internet during periods of unrest can help debunk misinformation and document events.”

The government has been criticised for resorting to internet shutdowns as a method to curb dissent. Talking to BloombergQuint, Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor had said that the internet is redefining our fundamental rights, and that such shutdowns could pose a threat to fundamental rights.

In 2011, the United Nations called the access to internet a human right.

You can sign the petition here.

Read: Are internet shutdowns becoming the new normal in India?

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