Telecom operators have refused to abide by the new order issued by the Home Ministry that sought to block Twitter traffic from 8 states such as Gujarat, Kerala, Assam and UP. Telecom operators have stated that such a move is not technically feasible. In the same vein, operators have approached the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) requesting it to consider the technical feasibility of such a request by the ministry, by which it seeks to monitor Twitter traffic.
These reports come in light of the recent chronology of events in the country, pertaining to the fact that the reach of social media had been misused to trigger violence in the country.
Operators express inability to implement state-wise block
The official directive reads, “Twitter Inc may be directed to all traffic emanating from addresses in the states assessed by the Central Intelligence Agencies to be sensitive in the current prevailing situation in Kerala, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh.”
The Home Ministry's order has been conveyed to BSNL, Tata Communications, Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, Reliance Communications as well as the Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI).
Reports quoted Tata Communications as saying in its reply that it does not give out IP addresses to its customers on a state-wise basis. It added here that, “Specific area wise/state wise blocking of website is technically not feasible.” BSNL, too had the same opinion reflected on its answer, and stated that it was not possible to block website on circle basis. Reliance Communications said that blocking has to be at the gateway locations and cannot be done state-wise. A report added further, “Idea and Bharti also said it's not possible to block. ISPAI said “we would like to inform that it is technically not feasible to block website state wise.””
The Director of DoT, Subodh Saxena, said in his statement, “…in the present scenario that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) having majority of internet subscribers have not allocated addresses area or state wise and it would not be possible for them at present to carry out specific area wise or state wise blocking of website.”
Reports coming in this morning revealed that the government had planned to block Twitter across eight states in the country. The 'inflammatory' content posted on Twitter was thought to be one of the main factors triggering the widespread exodus in the country. Interestingly, the Department of Electronics and IT (DEIT) had sought to bar the popular microblogging service across eight states in the country, namely, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. The DEIT approached experts to know how to proceed with it and if at all it could be done.
The DEIT was following an advisory issued by the Home Ministry. The ministry had been of the opinion that the content on Twitter had a role to play in triggering panic, and the exodus subsequently. The move, however, did not go through. As per fresh reports, the move was discouraged by National Security Advisor M K Narayanan and Pulok Chatterjee, Principal Secretary to the PM.
Voicing its opinion behind discouraging such a move, the PMO reportedly said, “Water supply cannot be switched off to an entire colony just because few taps were giving bad water.” It was then decided to install a review committee in place to monitor content posted on Twitter.