India has registered itself as one of the first few countries to have a law enabling the government to switch off or block the internet in case of national emergency. The government has incorporated a provision under the IT Act of 2008 which permits the government or any of its official specially authorized by it to block the internet, if necessary, in the interest of national sovereignty and integrity, country’s defense, security of the states, friendly relations with foreign states or for public order.
While western countries such as US are still holding a debate on the judiciousness of empowering the government to control the cyber traffic, the Indian govt. has got itself issued legal rights to control the fastest growing resource in India. At present there are about 70 million internet users in the country growing at an exponential rate of 25% per year.
Section 69 A of the Information Technology Amendment Act, 2008 reads as follows, ” Where the central government or any of its officers specially authorized by it in this behalf is satisfied that it s necessary or expedient to do so in the interest of nationalsovereignty and integrity of India, defense of INdia, security of state, friendly relations with foreign states or for public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognisable offense relating to above, it may subject to the provision of sub-sections(2) for reasons to be recorded in writing, by order direct any agency of the government or intermediary to block access by public or cause to be blocked for access by public any information generated, transmitted, received, stored or hosted by any computer resource”.
It’s a good move by the govt. to entitle itself to the ‘kill switch’, as this act is popularly called , so, that in case of national emergency , rumors and false information can be prevented from spreading into the public causing havoc. The act has been welcomed by Amrita Chaudhary, director at Cyber Cafe Association of India. She said, ” If it’s in national security’s interest, switching off the internet for a short period is not unwelcome”.