February 2020 News

Revised J&K Internet Whitelist Includes More Kashmiri Portals, Removes JioChat

1 February 2020
The Wire

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir government has announced an expanded whitelist of approved websites, which includes more Kashmiri websites. However, the Mukesh Ambani-owned JioChat, a messenger app, has been removed from this latest list. After mobile phone and 2G internet services were restored, the government had announced a list of 301 websites which could be accessed in the union territory. The Indian government had put a blanket ban on mobile and internet services ahead of the nullification of Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which removed the autonomy of the state and bifurcated it into two union territories. Over the last month, Jammu and Kashmir administration has restored partial internet connectivity in a phased manner. While the home department stated on January 24 that there would be complete restriction on social media applications for 'peer-to-peer' communications, it had whitelisted JioChat. There had been questions raised by technology experts, as reported by The Wire, as to why JioChat would find itself on the list, when it not only allows video-calling and voice-calling but also group conversations with a 500-member limit. The earlier two lists had listed some prominent newspaper of Jammu and Kashmir, but had not listed several local portals. Both these points have now been addressed in the latest whitelist. JioChat is no more among the approved applications While the notification of January 31 does not specifically refer to JioChat, the home department observes, 'Among other things, the terrorist activities and misuse of internet, accessed through Virtual Private Network (VPN) applications, for coordination of terror acts, transmission of rumours and targeted messages to spread ideologies inimical to the interest of the State have been taken note of as also the past incidents and apprehensions during the succeeding week.' Meanwhile, portals like Jammu Links and Straight Line News, which were not part of the earlier list, have now been included in the new one.