The residents of Jammu & Kashmir are likely to stay off social media even after the restoration of the Internet services in the valley. The J&K administration has roped in a US-based multinational software company to assist them in preventing the users of the fixed-line Internet from accessing social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on.
Named Cisco Systems, the US-based firm will be building a firewall that won't allow the residents of the valley to get on social media platforms and other blacklisted websites. The firm's India branch has already sent its employees to Kashmir, kicking off the preparations.
"We are currently testing the temporary stopgap arrangement to see if the ban on blacklisted websites is sustainable. This will be followed by purchasing of the firewall from the US-based firm," a senior government official was quoted as saying.
No Internet in J&K since August last year
The Internet services in the valley were suspended in August last year after the abrogation of Article 370 provisions. The restrictions were partially eased in January with 2G internet facility getting restored, allowing the local residents to access the 1,600 whitelisted websites which did not include any social media platforms.
However, the home department of the J&K government notified that they obtained several reports from the intelligence and law enforcement agencies stating that social media websites were being accessed via Virtual Private Network (VPN) applications to spread rumors and perform "terror activities". The Internet Service Providers (ISPs) were then directed to block VPNs, but the absence of stronger firewalls allowed people to access upgraded VPNs.
Therefore, to make sure that peace prevails in the valley, the administration decided to seek international help in building a fully-secured firewall that could restrict the users from accessing social media websites via VPNs once the fixed-line Internet is restored.