Roundtable on Internet Shutdowns, Technology and Society Series, 11 November 2020

Rohini Lakshané was one of the speakers at the Roundtable on Internet Shutdowns organised by the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM-B) and Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC) on November 11, 2020. The roundtable was a part of Technology and Society Series hosted by SFLC and the Centre for Software & Information Technology Management at IIM-B. Details of the event: https://www.iimb.ac.in/index.php/iimb-csitm-host-internet-shutdowns

The other speakers at the roundtable were Prof. Rajeev Gowda, former Member of Parliament and former faculty, IIM Bangalore; Anuradha Bhasin, Editor, Kashmir Times; and Prasanth Sugathan, Legal Director, SFLC. Prof. Neena Pandey, faculty, IIM Visakhapatnam moderated the session.

“Anatomy of Internet shutdowns”: Panel discussion at Nullcon 2020

Prateek Waghre, Research Analyst, The Takshashila Institution was a speaker in a panel discussion at Nullcon on March 8, 2020 about a study carried out jointly with Rohini Lakshané of The Bachchao Project. In the discussion entitled “Anatomy of Internet Shutdowns”, Waghre spoke about the study on usability testing of the whitelist issued for Internet access in Jammu and Kashmir.

Details about the study may be accessed here: http://thebachchaoproject.org/even-the-301-whitelisted-sites-in-jammu-and-kashmir-are-not-entirely-accessible-an-analysis

Details about the session here: https://nullcon.net/website/media-track.php. Nullcon is an annual conference held in India on the topic of cybersecurity.

Submission to MHA regarding whitelist for Internet access in Jammu and Kashmir

The Bachchao Project and The Takshashila Institution made a joint submission to India’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) based on our findings of a usability testing exercise conducted on the whitelist issued for Internet access in Jammu and Kashmir in January 2020. A copy of the submission has been uploaded here along with a summary of the questions raised by our findings.

The findings are available on Zenodo: https://zenodo.org/record/3635885


To,
Shri Ajay Kumar Bhalla,
Home Secretary,
Ministry of Home Affairs,
Dated: February 19, 2020

Dear Sir,

Subject: Jammu and Kashmir Internet Whitelist

This communication is with reference to orders issued by the Home Department, Government of Jammu and Kashmir (dated January 14, 18, 24 and 31) regarding the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services and enforcement of a whitelist of websites available for internet access in Jammu and Kashmir.

We have conducted a usability analysis of the 329 entries in the whitelist with the following results.

  • 20% of the entries were practically usable.
  • 23% of the entries were partially usable.
  • 47% of the entries were not usable in any meaningful way.
  • 10% of the entries could not be analysed as the information provided was inadequate/ incorrect.

The analysis demonstrated that this whitelisting approach is not technically feasible, especially for a large population, nor is it practically workable. It also simultaneously raised questions about the whitelisting exercise as a whole, which need to be urgently addressed by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

  1. What were the process and criteria applied to select these specific URLs/ services/ websites to be on the whitelist?
  2. What were the process and criteria applied to reject some services provided by the government from the whitelist?
  3. What were the process and criteria, if any, to reject websites and services that are similar to those whitelisted and those that provide the same or comparable services?
  4. How were the residents of Jammu and Kashmir informed about this whitelist, that these specific services/ websites had become accessible?
  5. Were recommendations sought from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) with regard to the violation of Net Neutrality? If so, what recommendations did TRAI put forward?
  6. What were the criteria for blocking VPN services?
  7. What, if any, technical testing was conducted to ensure smooth operation of the whitelisted websites?
  8. What, if any, was the review process put in place for the list?
  9. In view of all the above questions, how will the authorised government officers “ensure implementation of these directions in letter and spirit,” as stated in paragraph 7 of the order dated January 14?

We have enclosed a document containing the following information for your perusal.

  • Executive summary
  • Background note
  • Summary of results
  • Questions with supporting information

The document also includes three addenda (in case further details are required).

  • Addendum 1: Detailed write-up about the method of testing, its limitations, our observations based on our findings, and questions and comments about the role of ISPs in implementing the whitelist.
  • Addendum 2: The test results and observations for each of the 301 entries in the whitelist contained in the order dated 24 January.
  • Addendum 3: The test results and observations for new entries made to the whitelist specified by the order dated January 31. The new entries had to be analysed separately since this order removed the ‘Field’ column resulting in a change in categorisation of the entries.

We seek your response(s) to the 9 questions listed in the submission.

Copies to:

  1. Shri Amit Shah, Minister for Home Affairs
  2. Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister for Communications, Minister for Electronics and Information Technology
  3. Shri Anshu Prakash, Secretary to the Department of Telecommunications
  4. Shri Ajay Sawhney, Secretary to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology
  5. Shri Shaleen Kabra, Principal Secretary to the Government, Home Department, Government of Jammu and Kashmir
  6. Shri R. S. Sharma, Chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)
  7. Shri Sanjay Dhotre, Union Minister of State for Communication, and for Electronics and IT


Prateek Waghre
Research Analyst,
The Takshashila Institution

Rohini Lakshané
Director, Emerging Research,
The Bachchao Project

Questions about whitelist for Internet access in Jammu and Kashmir

[Podcast] All Things Policy: The Dark Side Of The Kashmir Whitelist

Rohini Lakshané (of The Bachchao Project) and Prateek Waghre (of The Takshashila Institution) spoke with Anirudh Kanisetti on this podcast about their analysis of the 301 entries whitelisted for Internet access in Jammu and Kashmir in January 2020. This episode is a part of the All Things Policy series of The Takshashila Institution. The detailed analysis and test results were published on Medianama — Even the 301 whitelisted sites in Jammu and Kashmir are not entirely accessible: An analysis.

Podcast URL: https://ivmpodcasts.com/all-things-policy-episode-list/2020/1/29/ep-250-the-dark-side-of-the-kashmir-whitelist

Tweet thread: Preliminary analysis of second whitelist for Internet access in Jammu and Kashmir

Dataset: https://zenodo.org/record/3629633

In continuation of the tweet thread from: Preliminary analysis of first whitelist for Internet access in Jammu and Kashmir

Detailed analysis published on Medianama — Even the 301 whitelisted sites in Jammu and Kashmir are not entirely accessible: An analysis, January 28, 2020

Tweet thread

Tweet thread: Preliminary analysis of first whitelist for Internet access in Jammu and Kashmir

Rohini Lakshané (The Bachchao Project) and Prateek Waghre (The Takshashila Institution) conducted a preliminary analysis of whitelist comprising 153 entries issued by the Home Department, Government of Jammu and Kashmir on 18 January 2020, to empirically determine whether the whitelisted websites and services would be practically usable for an ordinary resident. The Twitter thread published here shines a light on the method of testing and the signficant findings. A detailed write-up will be published soon. The dataset comprising test results is licensed and can be accessed here: https://zenodo.org/record/3627665

Dataset: Analysis of whitelisted URLs in Jammu and Kashmir (order dated 24 January 2020)

This preliminary analysis was conducted by Rohini Lakshané (The Bachchao Project) and Prateek Waghre (The Takshashila Institution) from 22 and 26 January 2020 IST, to empirically determine whether the whitelisted websites and services would be practically usable for an ordinary resident of Jammu and Kashmir at the time of writing.

This dataset contains an analysis of a whitelist comprising 301 entries issued by the Home Department, Government of Jammu and Kashmir on 18 January 2020 [Order number: Home-05 (TSTS) of 2020]. The department issued an order with the accompanying whitelist in response to a Supreme Court judgement dated 10 January 2020 (Anuradha Bhasin vs. Union of Indian and Ors.) that directed the Government of India to review the blanket suspension of Internet services in Jammu and Kashmir since 5 August 2019. The first version of the whitelist (dated 18 January 2020), and this dataset by extension, comprised 153 entries. The Home Department states in its orders that this whitelist will be continually updated; the next update may be issued on 31 January or earlier.

A Chrome browser extension was used to simulate access to only those URLs that are mentioned in the government order. A detailed description of the method, its limitations, and the full analysis of the findings has been published on Medianama (Even the 301 whitelisted sites in Jammu and Kashmir are not entirely accessible: An analysis).

For information on how to read this dataset, refer to the tab entitled “About this sheet”. A numerical summary of the findings of this analysis is present in the tab entitled “Summary of findings”.

Data is provided AS-IS, without warranty as to accuracy or completeness.

This dataset has been released under the Creative Commons-Attribution-Share Alike (CC-BY-SA) 4.0 International License. All uses of the accompanying data and modifications and derivatives thereof must contain the following attribution: “By Rohini Lakshané and Prateek Waghre (2020)”.

This dataset was first published here on Zenodo.
DOI

Version 2

Lakshane_Waghre_Analysis of whitelisted URLs in Jammu and Kashmir, 27 January 2020

 

XLSX format: Lakshane_Waghre_Analysis of whitelisted URLs in Jammu and Kashmir.XLSX,_27 January 2020_CC-BY-SA-4.0

ODS format: Lakshane_Waghre_Analysis of whitelisted URLs in Jammu and Kashmir.ODS,_27 January 2020_CC-BY-SA-4.0.

Version 1

Lakshane_Waghre_Analysis of whitelisted URLs in Jammu and Kashmir, _24_January_2020

 

XLSX format: Lakshane_Waghre_Analysis of whitelisted URLs in Jammu and Kashmir.XLSX, 24_January_2020_CC-BY-SA-4.0

ODS format: Lakshane_Waghre_Analysis of whitelisted URLs in Jammu and Kashmir.ODS, 24_January_2020_CC-BY-SA-4.0

Last edited: 12:58 a.m., January 29, 2020, IST to add Version 2 of dataset.

Session on Internet shutdowns, ICT4D Conference 2019, Uganda

Slide deck_Of Sieges and Shutdowns_ICT4DCon_2019

Rohini Lakshané of The Bachchao Project spoke at a session entitled “Impact Of Intentional Internet Shutdowns And Unreliable Mobile Connectivity On Women In Conflict-Strained Manipur” at the ICT4D Conference 2019. The session was featured under the “Humanitarian Response and Resilience” track. In the session, Rohini presented the most significant findings of the study “Of Sieges and Shutdowns“, which she conducted with Chinmayi S K in late 2017 in Manipur, India. The exploratory research project was aimed at studying the impact of intentional Internet shutdowns from the lenses of gender, conflict and the status of ethnic minority.

Read the full report of the study at: Of Sieges and Shutdowns

The conference was held from April 30 to May 2, 2019 at Kampala, Uganda. Details: https://www.ict4dconference.org

Panel discussion on intentional internet shutdowns at Digital Citizen Summit 2018

Rohini Lakshané of The Bachchao Project was a speaker on a panel on the topic of intentional internet shutdowns at the Digital Citizen Summit held in New Delhi on November 1-2, 2018. The panel discussion entitled “Living in Digital Darkness — Internet Shutdowns in India” was organised by the Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) and Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC).

Lakshané spoke about the findings from The Bachchao Project’s research report entitled “Of Sieges and Shutdowns” on the impact of intentional Internet shutdowns on the lives and livelihoods of women in Manipur, India.

The other panelists were Prashanth Sugathan (SFLC), Tripti Jain (SFLC, moderator), Nikhil Pahwa (Medianama) and Mansi Kedia (ICRIER).

View conference agenda.

View event report by the organisers [PDF].

Panel discussion on intentional internet shutdowns at Digital Citizen Summit 2018
Photos from the panel discussion on intentional Internet shutdowns at the Digital Citizen Summit, New Delhi, 2018. Photo credit: Osama Manzar, Digital Empowerment Foundation
Panel discussion on intentional internet shutdowns at Digital Citizen Summit 2018
Photo credit: Osama Manzar, Digital Empowerment Foundation
Panel discussion on intentional internet shutdowns at Digital Citizen Summit 2018
Photo credit: Osama Manzar, Digital Empowerment Foundation

Of Sieges and Shutdowns

How unreliable mobile networks and intentional Internet shutdowns affect the lives of women in Manipur

By Chinmayi S K and Rohini Lakshané

Of Sieges and Shutdowns draws upon 16 qualitative interviews and as many first-person accounts to unravel and document how unreliable mobile networks and intentional Internet shutdowns affect the lives of women in Manipur. The Bachchao Project conducted this study in late 2017 in Manipur with the support of Integrated Rural Development Service Organisation (IRDSO).

We invited women entrepreneurs and activists working in different areas of women’s empowerment to participate in this study via in-person interviews and a two-day exploratory workshop. This preliminary study is an attempt to probe their use of information communication technologies (ICTs) in professional and everyday contexts, the impact of Internet access issues on their lives, and their experiences of intentional Internet shutdowns.

Of Sieges and Shutdowns (2018), research report by The Bachchao Project [PDF]
View and download the report [PDF]
View a summary of findings of the report [PDF].

View a conference handout [PDF] based on the report.

Ninglun Hanghal reviewed the report for GenderIT.org in December 2018: How Internet Shutdowns Affect The Lives of Women in Manipur