Over 1,100 sites added to whitelist; social media ban intact

The J&K Administration has decided to continue the suspension of 3G and 4G services till February 24, but has widened the whitelist by giving access to over 1,100 more websites now. The decision was announced after a weekly review meeting held by the Home Department on Saturday, which announced that the Internet speed on mobile data services “shall be restricted to 2G only”, adding to the delay in the restoration of high-speed Internet blocked since August last year. The 2G Internet, which offers the maximum transfer speed of 20 kbps, is the lowest available speed bandwidth that restricts most functions of the modern day World Wide Web. In comparison, 3G technology offers a transfer rate of at least 144 kbps and 4G a peak speed of 100 mbps. The administration, in its latest review order, maintained the continuation of the stringent set of restrictions on Internet usage, which it has ordered since restoration of the 2G services last month.The 2G services were restored in the region following the directions of the Supreme Court, which termed the access to Internet as a fundamental right. The Internet had remained blocked in the region for more than five months. Meanwhile, with the latest addition, the number of websites in the whitelist has reached 1,485. The whitelist is, however, still minuscule as compared to the number of sites available on the World Wide Web, which is more than 1.5 billion. The whitelist includes educational, health, government mailing and utility websites. The administration also continued to impose ban on the social media sites and messengers and directed the Internet Service Providers to “ensure access only to the whitelisted sites…not any social media application, allowing peer-to-peer communication and Virtual Private Network applications”.Restrictions in place Aug 5, 2019: Communication blackout in J&K, hours before Article 370 abrogationOct 14: Postpaid mobile services restored in a slow, phased manner Jan 10, 2020: Supreme Court directs J&K Admn to review Internet suspension Jan 25: J&K Admn restores 2G Net, bans social media and limits access to 300 whitelisted sites.

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