Social Networking Sites Banned

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Srinagar: The state government on Wednesday imposed a month-long ban on social networking sites, including Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter, in the Kashmir Valley to contain escalating pro-azadi demonstrations in the region.

The Home department headed by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti asked the internet Service Providers (ISPs) to stop transmission of around 22 social networking sites in Kashmir with immediate effect.

This is the first time that the state government has banned social media websites rather than the Internet.

However 3G and 4G internet services on cellphones were suspended on April 17 following widespread student protests after military crackdown on a college in South Kashmir that left 54 students injured.

Young Internet-savvy Kashmiris have been using instant messaging groups to spread the word around about the next round of protests.

Last year, the government had banned internet services for over four months.

The social networking sites blocked this time include Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, QQ, We Chat, Qzone, Tumbir, Google+, Baidu, Skype, Viber, Line, Snapchat, Pinterest, Telegram, Reddit, Snapfish, You Tube (upload), Vine, Xanga, Buzznet and Flickr.

The social networking sites blocked this time include Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, QQ, We Chat, Qzone, Tumbir, Google+, Baidu, Skype, Viber, Line, Snapchat, Pinterest, Telegram, Reddit, Snapfish, You Tube (upload), Vine, Xanga, Buzznet and Flickr.

The order issued by the Principal Secretary to the Government Home Department states that any violation of the order shall be dealt with in accordance with the relevant provisions of law. The order read: “In the interest of maintenance of public order, the  Government, in exercise of powers conferred by sub-section (2)  of Section-5 of the Indian Telegraph Act 1885 read with the Indian Telegraph (Amendment ) Rules, 2007 hereby directs all Internet Service Providers (ISPs), that any message or class of messages  to or from any person or class of persons relating to any subject or any pictorial content through these sites shall not be transmitted in the Kashmir Valley, with immediate effect, for a period of one month or  till further orders.”

The order states that as per available inputs, over a period of time, a progressively increasing trend has been witnessed with regard to misuse of social media, like Facebook, Twitter etc by the elements inimical to public order and tranquility, thereby impinging on public safety, particularly in the Kashmir Valley.

 “It has been further observed that such elements are transmitting objectionable contents, to spread disaffection amongst public at large in Kashmir  Valley against the state administration and the security forces, with a view to incite them to commit various offences at large-scale, cause damage to life and property and disturb peace and tranquility; and whereas, it is being felt that continued misuse of Social Networking sites and instant Messaging Services is likely to be  detrimental to the interests of peace and tranquility in the State; and whereas, it was also observed during law and order  disturbances of 2016 in the Kashmir valley that such elements, inter alia, extensively misused Social Media sites and Instant Messaging Services for vitiating peace and instigating violence, which  caused large-scale damage  to life and property; and  whereas, such elements largely succeed in transmitting unverified objectionable and inflammatory material/content through the medium of these Social Networking sites and Instant Messaging Services without any accountability, thereby endangering pubic life and property and causing unrest/disharmony in the State,” the order said.

It said on careful examination of all relevant factors, it was observed that the use of social media platforms which are being misused  by anti-social elements by transmitting inflammatory messages, in various forms, are immediately required to be regulated/curbed; and whereas Section 5 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 read with Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Rules, 2007, inter-alia confers powers upon the Central Government or the State Government to take possession of licensed telegraphs and order stoppage of transmission or interception or detention of messages.

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