Indian Government: Centre mulls ways to block mobile apps


AUGUST 6, 2018

Istanbul, Turkey – January 16, 2016: Paper cubes with Popular social media services icons, including Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter and a Macbook Pro laptop computer on a wooden desk. 

Facebook, WhatsApp on the list

The Centre has asked telecom service providers to explore possible ways to block mobile applications such as Facebook and WhatsApp “as per the provisions of the IT Act, 2000.”

In a letter dated July 18, the Department of Telecom “once again requested” operators and Internet service providers “to explore various possible options and confirm how Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram and such other mobile applications can be blocked on the Internet.” Without clarifying the reason for the request, the DoT has said, “Issues have been raised by MeITY (Ministry of Electronics and IT) and LEAs (Law Enforcement Agencies) for blocking certain mobile apps like Instagram/ Facebook/ Whatsapp/ Telegram.”

“This issue was also raised during the meeting on July 4, 2018, wherein technical inputs were sought from TSPs/ISPs to explore possibility of certain mobile applications,” the letter said. The July 4 meeting, according to an industry representative present, was mainly on putting a stop to child abuse/pornography and to curb the spread of fake news. An industry source said the discussions centred around blocking these applications in an emergency, rather than blocking access to the Internet as a whole. “For example, in Jammu & Kashmir, we have Internet blackout. So, there was a discussion on whether just some social media applications could be blocked instead.”

A source in the DoT said that there is no move to block any apps. “MeitY has informed DoT that blocking such apps during emergency situations are difficult as they work through multiple IP addresses and on different protocols, and hence there is a need for a reasonable good solution to protect national security.”

The source added, “Being the licensing authority DoT has initiated the discussion based on a letter received from the Group Coordinator, Cyber Law Division (MeitY) during the second week of July.”

Courtesy/Source: The Hindu