Internet in Kashmir: However, restrictions on social media will continue at least until January 31.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration Friday ordered restoration of broadband and data services from Saturday for the Union Territory. However, restrictions on social media will continue, at least until January 31.
This marks the restoration of Internet services across Kashmir after nearly six months. Services were snapped on August 4 night, hours before the abrogation of Article 370. Broadband connectivity to essential services was restored on January 15. Additionally, restricted data access was restored in the North Kashmir districts of Kupwara and Baramulla.
On January 10, the Supreme Court directed the J&K administration to “review all orders suspending Internet services forthwith” since “an order suspending Internet services indefinitely is impermissible”. It ruled that “freedom of speech and expression and the freedom to practice any profession or carry on any trade, business or occupation over the medium of Internet enjoys Constitutional protection under Article 19 (1) (a) and Article 19 (1) (g)”.
Network speed will be restricted to 2G. These restrictions will be reviewed post January 31.
The J&K Home department, in its order Friday, stated that “access shall be limited to whitelisted sites and not to any social media applications allowing peer to peer communication and Virtual Private Network Application”. It said data services shall be available on post-paid mobiles and on pre-paid mobile SIM cards “of such holders whose credentials have been verified as per the norms applicable for the post-paid connections”. Network speed will be restricted to 2G. These restrictions will be reviewed post January 31.
In case of fixed-line connectivity, only 301 whitelisted sites, the list of which has been expanded to include news websites, will be restored on January 25.
Until now, the whitelist had 153 websites comprising four emailing sites such as gmail and outlook, 15 banking websites including RBI, J&K Bank, PayPal and Western Union; three employment websites, 38 educational websites including indiaresults, IGNOU and websites for five J&K based universities, three schools and Wikipedia.