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Communications of the ACM

ACM Opinion

With Internet Shutdowns, India Is Violating a 'Duty to Memory'

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With Internet Shutdowns, India Is Violating a 'Duty to Memory'

There is little, if any, evidence to support a link between Internet access and violence or other dangerous behavior. Instead, research shows that when used in concert with state force, Internet shutdowns make it more difficult to research and investigate human rights violations and other crimes.

For the past three years, India has had the highest number of Internet shutdowns of any country in the world, occurring mostly in areas where citizens have been protesting against the state. [But] the right to Internet access should be defined broadly to meet standards of meaningful connectivity, which stipulate access to a smartphone, sufficient data allotments for sharing information, and an uninterrupted 4G or faster Internet connection.

Any state action that compromises any of those standards should be categorized as an Internet shutdown and considered a violation of fundamental rights like freedom of speech, as well as of duty to memory.

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