No Mainstream News in List of 153 Whitelisted Websites Under Kashmir’s First Govt Firewall

Conspicuously absent from the list that includes Gmail, Netflix, Zomato, Oyo Rooms and Paytm are news and social media websites.

New Delhi: While limited Internet and mobile connectivity services have begun in certain parts of the Jammu and Kashmir Union territory, residents will only be able to access 153 government-approved websites.

Details of this “whitelist” – which was first announced on January 14, when Internet service providers were ordered to install the necessary firewalls –  have now become public.

The websites that have been included the white-list fall under ten categories: mail (Gmail, Yahoo), banking (most prominent banks), education, employment, entertainment, services, travel, utilities, weather, web services and automobiles.

What is conspicuously absent though is any dedicated news website, a development that is concerning especially because traditional media have also faced issues in freely disseminating news in the union territory since August 2019. While Hotstar (which contains access to the feeds of certain TV news channels) and Reliance Industries-owned Moneycontrol.com (which publishes business news) are on the list, they are not mainstream or dedicated general news websites.

Also read: The SC Must Go Further and Recognise Access to Internet as a Comprehensive Right

In addition to this, social media websites like Facebook and Twitter have also not been allowed.

As the list below shows, the government has approved four-email services, 15 banking websites, three employment websites and over 35 educational websites.

Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services by The Wire on Scribd

The ‘entertainment websites allowed on the white-list include Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hotstar, while government websites such as income tax e-filing, passport and UIDAI can also be accessed.

Note: This story was updated at 5:25 PM to add that Hotstar, which is on the whitelist, contains access to the feeds of certain TV news channels.