Kashmir is surviving with lowest internet speed as authorities blocked certain social networking websites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. This is part of the state government efforts of preventing people from watching an anti-Islam film.
The restrictions have started playing havoc with speed as certain operators have deliberately reduced the speed of the bandwidth to prevent people from downloading and uploading huge files. Though banks and the government are not impacted, because they have dedicated gateways not based in Kashmir, the commoners and the routine businesses have started having an impact.
Last month, J&K’s home ministry issued an order 811 of 2012 asking internet providers “to ensure that their subscribers/ customers/clients in the state of Jammu and Kashmir should not be able to download or upload the contents with regard to film/message/comments/excerpts of the blasphemous video titled Innocent Muslims” or by any other name. If necessary, due to technical reasons, the Qualified Domain Names shall be blocked www.youtube.com,www.facebook.com etc”. The government order further said, “they shall alos ensure that the bulk mails that are being generated frin their subscribers / clinets do not contain this file / versions ofthis file and the content and in case of suspicion / detection, the same shal be blocked and filtered”.
State Home Department invoked the powers under section 5(2) of the Indian Telegraph Act 1885 to issue this order.
The immediate response from the service providers was to block all the cell phones and jam internet services on September 22, when Kashmir observed a complete shutdown against the blasphemous film. The services were restored later that evening.
Though the film controversy has gradually died down, the restrictions continue. Now the social networking sites are blocked to the cell phone users. Pre-paid cell phone service users already had their SMS services blocked.
“We have no input about how many people had uploaded the controversial video from their mobile phones but we have been asked to block the access so we have done it,” a senior official of a cell phone service provider said in Srinagar. “I do not think that any Muslim will upload blasphemous content because Muslims are very sensitive about the issue”. The operator further confirmed that even limited blockade of certain websites can affect the overall internet speed.
Circle head of Reliance communication Atta ul Rahman while confirmed that they have been asked to block some social networking websites through mobile phones and they have acted upon the order. “We have no problems to continue with the service to mobile users but we have been ordered not to provide such services and we have already started acting upon the order”. Atta said.
The Customer head of the Reliance communications, which is one of the major internet providers of J&K Urun Golya revealed that government has not only ordered limited blockade on social websites but it has also prohibited them to talk to media on the issue. He said: “We have been asked not to talk to media.”