In a significant development, the Jammu and Kashmir administration on Wednesday choose to remove curbs on the social media by extending ban on the restoration of 4-G internet services till March 17.According to wire service—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), the government, however, said that the curbs have been eased only for postpaid mobile subscribers with speed restriction to 2G networks only. The order in this regard was issued by the Principal Secretary Home Shaleen Kabra. It is after a gap of seven months that the J&K government lifted curbs on social media.An official in the J&K administration told KNO that they had only two options: either to restore 4 G and to continue gag on social media or to lift ban on social media and continue with 2-G services.“It was unanimously decided that social media ban be lifted and 4 G services to be barred till March 17,” the official said, wishing not to be named.The order to this effect was passed after the government's home department reviewed the existing security situation. Importantly, the order did not mention any "whitelist" of websites for which access has been allowed, which means that curbs on social media have been lifted.
The order will remain in force till 17 March. An earlier order extending curbs on internet usage in Kashmir on 15 February had a list of "whitelisted" websites and had directed internet service providers (ISPs) to allow access to only those websites, and "not to any social media applications".As per KNO, the fresh order said: “internet access across the Union Territory with internet speed restricted to 2G only and internet connectivity with MAC-binding to continue till 17 March, 2020. The directions to remain in force unless modified earlier. While the postpaid sim card holders shall continue to be provided access to the internet, these services shall not be made available on prepaid sim cards unless verified as per norms applicable for postpaid connections."The order said that internet facility will be available at e-terminals, internet kiosks and special arrangements for tourists, students, traders, etc. On 25 January, 2G mobile internet services on postpaid as well as prepaid phones were restored in the Kashmir but could only be used to access 301 websites approved by the Jammu and Kashmir administration.The Supreme Court, in a significant ruling on 10 January, asked the Jammu and Kashmir administration to review within a week all orders imposing curbs in the Union Territory. The apex court had slammed the Union Territory administration for arbitrarily shutting down the internet, the facility described as a fundamental right by the apex court—(KNO)