Internet Ban – For the Greater Good or Worse?

Internet Ban – For the Greater Good or Worse?

Written By: / Articles / Thursday, 22 December 2016 16:56

By: Gurumayum Maheshwar Sharma
Internet Access Is Now A Basic Human Right. ...  according to the United Nations Human Rights Council, which passed a non-binding resolution in June this year that condemns countries that intentionally take away or disrupt its citizens’ internet access. The Current ban on Cellular Data in Manipur which was imposed on 19th December by the Government amidst the present volatile situation without considering the pros and cons of it may be term as a thoughtless and ignorant. While the whole of country is reeling under the heat of Demonetization, the internet ban adds more salt to the wounds of the people. While Our Honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi is targeting to go everything Digital and encouraging Cashless Transaction, this move from the state government contradicts it. Majority of the Internet users in Manipur relies on Cellular data. Be it using social media sites, doing business transaction or purchasing goods, most of the people uses their Smartphone using Cellular data. All these have been disrupted with the current Internet ban. Adding to the woes is the disabling of SMS for all service providers. SMS also plays an important role with cashless transaction. For example, when doing an online purchase through Internet banking, Debit Card or Credit card, one needs a special code called One Time Password (OTP) that is delivered to the users registered number at the time of transaction and this has been disabled too with the current Internet/SMS ban. It may be mentioned that the ban on SMS is to prevent any dissemination of unwanted message through this medium. One wonders, who uses SMS in this era of WhatsApp and Facebook to exchange messages. If the Government thinks it is necessary to disable SMS to prevent from circulating unwanted messages, they could do so by disabling outgoing message and enabling incoming message. That way it would not disrupt anything.
After the Demonetization, many business establishment started installing Point of Sale Terminal(or simply POS) to accept payment using Credit Card, or Debit Card. This POS Terminal relies on Cellular Data for its functioning otherwise without an active internet connection; it is like a dead machine. In places like Hospital, where many make huge payment for treatment, this POS machine is like a boon. Say if a person needs about 1lakh amount for his/her treatment, this POS machine comes to his rescue from long queues and chaos in the Bank. On the other hand if he/she wants to withdraw money from his account,  has to stand in a long queue or worse return back empty handed as most bank have limited money for a day. Also the withdrawal limit for an account is 24K. In case of an emergency, this is not a practical thing and the POS machine comes as a life saver in such case. But after the ban on data service, these entire POS terminal have become useless and the government with its so call law and order maintenance ban is causing inconvenience to the masses. Call it sheer ignorance from the Government or intentionally, but many will call it an ignorant and irresponsible move. Here is the reason why. Most of the unwanted, communal contents, lies, rumors etc are disseminated mainly via Facebook and Whatsapp. The Government could ask the service provider to block the access of these site and apps from their end using methods like IP blocking, DNS tampering, and URL blocking using a proxy. That way a user will not be able to visit a website or an app in question. Many will argue that blocked sites can be viewed using a Proxy or using Virtual Private Network but majority of the internet users will not know how to bypass it except for a few technologically apt users. As per my experience, majority of the users creating ruckus in the social media are teenagers and minors using a Smartphone. They are the ones sharing and posting all these sort of unwanted comments. Many of these users will find it hard to bypass the blocked sites if he/she is not familiar with it. I am not saying that blocking sites will curb all those unwanted activities cent per cent but it sure is more ethical comparing to a complete internet shutdown. Many will be able to do their usual Communication, business or browse websites without any problem.  Seems like the Government hasn’t taken any advice from a tech expert while taking the decision of shutting down Cellular Data. Or one may question are all the high ranking officials of Manipur involved in decision making so technologically backward they don’t know such a simple thing or is it an intentional move to harass the people by taking away their Basic Internet rights?

About the Author

Maheshwar Gurumayum

Maheshwar Gurumayum

Maheshwar Gurumayum, Sub-Editor of Imphal Times is a resident of Sagolband Salam Leikai. He has been with Imphal Times since 2013. An avid adventure lover, writes mostly travelogue. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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