Social media curbs lifted but only 2G services allowed in J&K

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SRINAGAR — In a significant development, the Jammu and Kashmir administration on Wednesday choose to remove curbs on social media while extending ban on 4G Internet services till March 17.

The government, however, said that the curbs have been eased only for postpaid mobile subscribers with speed restriction to 2G networks only. The order in this regard was issued by the Principal Secretary, Home Department, Shaleen Kabra.

It is after a gap of seven months that the J&K Government lifted curbs on social media.

An official in the J&K administration said that they had only two options: either to restore 4G and to continue gag on social media or to lift the ban on social media and continue with 2G services.

“It was unanimously decided that the social media ban be lifted and 4G services to be barred till March 17,” the official said, wishing not to be named.

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The order to this effect was passed after the government’s Home Department reviewed the existing security situation. Importantly, the order did not mention any “whitelist” of websites for which access has been allowed, which means that curbs on social media have been lifted. The order will remain in force till March 17.

An earlier order extending curbs on internet usage in Kashmir on February 15 had a list of “whitelisted” websites and had directed internet service providers (ISPs) to allow access to only those websites, and “not to any social media applications”.

The fresh order said, “Internet access across the Union Territory with internet speed restricted to 2G only and Internet connectivity with MAC-binding to continue till March 17, 2020. The directions remain in force unless modified earlier. While the postpaid sim card holders shall continue to be provided access to the Internet, these services shall not be made available on prepaid sim cards unless verified as per norms applicable for postpaid connections.”

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The order said that an internet facility would be available at e-terminals, internet kiosks and special arrangements for tourists, students, traders, etc.

On January 25, 2G mobile internet services on postpaid as well as prepaid phones were restored in Kashmir but could only be used to access 301 websites approved by the Jammu and Kashmir administration.

The Supreme Court, in a significant ruling on January 10, asked the Jammu and Kashmir administration to review within a week all orders imposing curbs in the Union Territory.

The apex court had slammed the Union Territory administration for arbitrarily shutting down the internet, the facility described as a fundamental right by the apex court.

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