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Restore internet with full speed: Human Rights Watch asks India

The Human Rights Watch on Wednesday urged four countries, including India, to immediately lift the restrictions on internet usage and restore data transmission at full speed as it said they “violate multiple rights” and can be “deadly” during a health crisis like coronavirus.

The international human rights body, in a statement, said, “Governments that are currently imposing an internet shutdown, such as Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, and Myanmar, should lift them immediately to save lives.

“Intentionally shutting down or restricting access to the internet violates multiple rights and can be deadly during a health crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic,” it said.

India had the most internet shutdowns with at least 385 such instances since 2012.

In Jammu and Kashmir, the government had imposed a complete communications blackout in August 2019, which prevented many from communicating to their dear ones and disrupted the local economy.

“Phone services were gradually restored, but it was only after the Supreme Court found the internet shutdown illegal in January 2020 that service was partially restored, and only at 2G speed,” the human rights body said.

The HRW also said that the COVID-19 infected people in the country have reported not being able to access websites for information about the pandemic due to highly restricted internet speed that makes accessing anything beyond text messages nearly impossible.

“Delhi-based Internet Freedom Foundation has called on the government to make all tools, including high speed internet, available to doctors and patients to save lives,” it said, adding that access to timely and accurate information is crucial during a health crisis.

“People use the internet for updates on health measures, movement restrictions and relevant news to protect themselves and others,” the human rights body added.

―Outlook India

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