No Social Media, Full Data Access to Cops: Kashmir Internet to Come With 6 Conditions

USB ports have to be disabled and all uploaded content must be shared with security agencies if they ask for it.

Srinagar: To restore their internet connections, which have been suspended for four months now, companies have to give the government a signed bond saying that internet usage will be for  “business purposes” only. They must also promise to share all the “contents” and “infrastructure” of the internet as and when required by the “security agencies”.

The bond, a copy of which is with The Wire, consists of six points, including that no encrypted file containing any sort of videos or photos will be uploaded.

Other points state that “for the allowed IP, there will be no Social Networking, Proxies, VPN’s and Wi-Fi” and “That all the USB ports will be disabled on the network”.

Authorities have also said that the companies will be held responsible “for any kind of breach and misuse of internet”.

On August 5, just hours before the Centre revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and split the state into two union territories, authorities suspended all communication lines across the Valley to “prevent any law and order situation”.

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Even though on October 12, the government restored postpaid mobile services in Kashmir, internet services for common people continues to be suspended.

However, sources told The Wire that at least 100 internet connections for hotels, guesthouses, travel agencies and some government offices have been restored over the past week.

“The process of restoration of internet services has been started from the government departments followed by the hospitality sector,” sources said. The Wire had previously reported that government departments had to sign a similar bond, with the head of the department to be held responsible in case of any misuse.

Sources said these connections were restored after authorities had been assured that the internet would be used only for official purposes.

“Whoever was allowed to use these services was asked to sign a bond taking responsibility that there will be no misuse of the facility,” sources said. “Some of the connections of bureaucrats have also been restored.”

The clearance to restore internet connections comes from the office of the inspector general of police (IGP).

Divisional commissioner, Kashmir, Baseer Khan, while acknowledging that internet had been restored in some places, said, “All connections are being monitored.”

Meanwhile, travel and hospitality sector businesses in a recent meeting had categorically said that they won’t engage in any promotional campaigns unless internet services are fully restored.

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“We are ready to sign a bond that we will use the internet facility only for sending tour itineraries and financial transactions. Government should ease restrictions on the internet, or else the business community, especially tourism sector, is doomed,” owners of travel businesses had resolved.

“We fail to understand why the government lifted the travel advisory when we can’t communicate with our clients. It should have at least relaxed the gag on broadband services. Tourists are also waiting for the mobile internet restoration here, so that they can remain connected with the outside world if they visit the Valley on vacation,” they added.

Junaid Kathju is a Srinagar based journalist.