Total blocking of apps to harm users' rights: COAI

The COAI has cautioned against blocking of mobile apps, saying it would impinge on freedom of speech and expression of users. Reuters file Photo

Telecom industry body COAI has cautioned against blocking of mobile apps, saying it would not only impinge on freedom of speech and expression of users but also hit routine day-to-day communications.

In its reply to the Department of Telecom (DoT) on technical suggestions to block mobile app, the Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI) said that blocking of mobile applications as a whole to prohibit circulation of certain content would likely impinge the principles of freedoms of speech, expression and information by blocking millions of other users who have not shared or originated any unlawful content.

Earlier, the DoT had asked the various stakeholders to suggest their views on technical measures which can be adopted for blocking mobile apps like Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram, etc in situations where national security and public order are under threat.

The COAI in its letter dated August 6, also cited technical constraints, flagged risks of over-blocking, and suggested that blocking must be targeted "only at content or account level." 

"Only specific content or users responsible for circulating unlawful content must be blocked instead of the entire mobile application blocking," said COAI, saying that any disruptions or full blocking of mobile apps, will "put to halt all ordinary day-to-day communications, correspondence and commerce activities.

With the several emerging businesses have to start to evolve on social media and communications applications, completing blocking would adversely impact the commercial interests and cause significant economic harm to innocent stakeholders, COAI said.

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Total blocking of apps to harm users' rights: COAI

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