Having restored mobile telephony, the Jammu and Kashmir administration is looking for technological solution to open access to Internet in the Valley in a way that it is not misused by disruptive elements. For this, the administration is exploring technology that can block access to social media.
“Proposals have been received that Internet could be restored with controlled access where social media is off limits, but before that it has to be explored whether a foolproof technology for this can be put in place on mass scale,” a senior J&K administration official said.
There are technologies which provide tunnel access where only a certain websites can be accessed, the official added.
According to information technology experts, blanket blocking of social media platforms is not without precedents but makes it virtually impossible for authorities to implement it fully given that such portals can be accessed using proxy apps, websites and virtual private networks (VPNs). Earlier this year, following the Easter Sunday blasts in the island-nation, the Sri Lankan government had blocked social media sites such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber, YouTube, Snapchat, etc, to control spread of misinformation.
Why complete Net ban is tough
VPNs allow users to circumvent the network by routing access requests through servers in other countries, effectively letting them bypass any such clampdown on any particular portal or website. While earlier, too, governments blocking social media have clamped down on some of the most popular VPN apps, there are hundreds of such apps available, making it difficult for a complete and effective ban.
The J&K official, however, made it clear that any decision to restore Internet in the Valley even without social media will be taken only after a proper assessment of the security situation in the wake of opening up of mobile telephony. “If the security situation worsens, and mobile telephone is seen to be the reason, Internet restoration could be delayed indefinitely,” the official said.
According to sources in J&K security establishment, social media is among the key mediums to assemble people and provoke them for violent public protests.
A senior police officer said, “Internet is shut down in all states, not just in Kashmir, in situations of potential violence. Social media in Kashmir plays a vital role in organising stone-pelting. It is also used by elements in Pakistan to post provocative videos and spread fake news that leads to violence.”
Sources said restoration of Internet is necessary also to speed up development work.