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2G mobile internet services extended in J&K till March 4; tighter vigil on use of VPNs

Jammu and Kashmir Home Secretary Shaleen Kabra, while signing the order, said restrictions would continue till March 4.

Published: 25th February 2020 05:42 PM  |   Last Updated: 25th February 2020 05:42 PM   |  A+A-

Kashmiri girls walks past Indian paramilitary soldiers standing guard during a strike on the death anniversary of separatist leader Maqbool Bhat in central Srinagar, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. (Photo | AP)

By PTI

JAMMU: Social networking sites allowing peer-to-peer communication and virtual private networks (VPNs) will remain unavailable in Jammu and Kashmir as anti-national elements and people across the border continue to "misuse" these platforms, the authorities said on Tuesday as 2G mobile Internet services were extended till March 4.

Issuing an order here, the home department of the union territory said that while assessing the impact of the directions relating to regulation of telecom services, it has come to fore that VPNs continue to be misused by the ANE (anti-national elements), including their handlers from across the border, to bypass the Internet restrictions.

It said that VPNs come handy for them to coordinate with their operatives within the UT and plan terror acts and scale up anti-national activities.

Jammu and Kashmir Home Secretary Shaleen Kabra, while signing the order, said restrictions would continue till March 4.

As per the order, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have been asked to ensure access to 1,674 white-listed sites only and not to any social media applications allowing peer-to-peer communication and VPN applications, the order said.

The 2G internet facility on mobile phones was restored in Jammu and Kashmir on January 25 after remaining suspended since August 5 last year after the Centre announced the abrogation of Article 370 provisions and bifurcation of the erstwhile state into union territories -- Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

The order said that there have been reports that attempts have been made to disturb public peace by spreading rumours to incite the general public which necessitated the temporary suspension of mobile data services for a limited period of time by the authorised officers.

"Data services shall be available on the postpaid mobiles and on prepaid SIM cards of such holders whose credentials have been verified as per the norms applicable for postpaid connections, and the internet speed shall be restricted to 2G only," the order said.

"Internet connectivity shall be available only after mac-binding.

It is further directed that all those who are provided access to the internet shall ensure that it is not misused for uploading the provocative material inimical to the interest of the state," the order read.

Kabra said the access or communication facilities made available by the government by way of e-terminals or internet kiosks apart from special arrangements for tourists, students and traders would continue.

The inspector generals of police, Kashmir and Jammu, would ensure communication of these directions to the service providers forthwith and ensure implementation of the directions with immediate effect, the order said.

The Jammu and Kashmir police has registered an FIR against unknown people for using VPNs to gain access to social networking sites.

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