Underlining that “Internet is being used” by terror handlers in Pakistan “to support fallacious proxy wars”, Jammu and Kashmir administration Wednesday justified its decision to restrict Internet in the region to 2G speed and said “right to access the Internet is not a fundamental right”.
The administration also said “the type and breadth of access for exercising the right to freedom of speech and expression. and/or to carry on any trade or business under. the constitution. through. Internet can be curtailed” in the interest of security of state, public order etc.
Responding to petitions seeking 4G Internet speed in the region, the Union Territory Administration told the Supreme Court in an affidavit that curbs on social media had been eased post the January 10 ruling of the apex court regarding restrictions imposed in the wake of the decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.
“Now that the restrictions on use of social media have been eased, if speed is not limited to 2G, the high speed internet will enable the spread of any fake news/rumors and transfer of heavy data files (audio/video files) will become prevalent which may be utilized by terror outfits for incitement as also in planning attacks,” the affidavit said.
The affidavit filed by Shaleen Kabra, Principal Secretary Home Department, J&K, said “Pakistan based terrorism handlers…, instigating youth to join terrorism, are using messaging applications to communicate as also to raise the morale of terrorists; however 2G mobile data services considerably restrict the use of such Applications. Further, it is submitted that VOIP services/ encrypted messaging, etc. that are utilized for infiltration via Line of Control as also communication from across the border,depend upon high speed internet”.
“Current discourses of social media campaigns infer that Pak handles are aiming to incite violence amongst College and University students,” the affidavit said.
“High speed internet services (4G) decrease the time of circulation of various photographs, videos, propaganda audios and hence enable the associated content to go viral, with the reaction time of law enforcement agencies to such situations decreasing,” it pointed out.
The affidavit said “misuse of data services, applications like WhatsApp and Facebook for mobilizing crowds by anti-national elements has the potential to cause large scale violence, disturb public order and indeed threaten the security of the country”.
The administration said “steps taken against the misuse of mobile data services which are prevalent in other parts of the country may not be practical and definitely not suffice in case of J&K”.
Stating that only “least restrictive” measures are in place, it added that “even when internet services were restored only with white-listed URLs” after the apex court judgment in January, “it was found that miscreants were using different VPNs but because of low speed mobile data services, were not able to upload files of heavy data containing incriminating and other objectionable videos”.
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