Govt restores 2G data services in entire J&K on both post, pre-paid mobiles

Access limited to 310 white-listed sites, not to social media

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Jan 24: In a big decision ahead of Republic Day, the Government tonight ordered restoration of 2G data services on all post and pre-paid mobile telephones and internet access on fixed line telephones in the entire Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir but the access on mobile data will be limited only to 301 white-listed sites identified by the administration.
This is for the first time in little less than six months that the Kashmir Valley will get 2G internet services on all post and pre-paid mobile telephones, which was snapped ahead of August 5 Central decisions on Jammu and Kashmir.
“Social media applications will, however, remain barred on mobile internet data services,” an official order issued tonight by Principal Secretary to Home Department, Jammu and Kashmir Government, Shaleen Kabra, said.
The Government order said that mobile data services and internet access through fixed line will be allowed in entire Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir with three restrictions.
“Access to mobile data services will be limited only to the white-listed sites and not to any social media applications allowing peer to peer communication and Virtual Private Network (VPN) applications.
“Data services will be available on both post-paid mobiles and prepaid SIM cards of such holders whose credentials have been verified as per the norms applicable for post paid connections and the internet speed will be restricted to 2G only,” the Home Department order said.
On fixed-line internet connectivity in the Kashmir Valley, the Government order said wherever connectivity has been provided since January 14, access will be limited only to the white-listed sites and not to any social media applications allowing peer to peer communication and VPN applications. It added that the internet connectivity on fixed-line phones in the Valley will be available only after Mac-binding.
Fixed-line internet connectivity had remained functional in Jammu region post August 5 decisions and was snapped only in the Valley.
The Home Department order carried a special Annexure of 301 white-listed sites which will be available on post and pre-paid mobile telephones through 2G internet services across the Union Territory.
Mobile data services, though restricted to 2G speed only, are being restored for the first time in the Kashmir Valley since August 5 decisions of the Central Government scrapping special Constitutional provisions of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcation of the erstwhile State into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.
The Government has fixed the responsibility of Internet Service Providers to ensure that access is allowed to white-listed sites only through mobile data services.
“All those who are provided access to the internet will be responsible to prevent any misuse, for which they will take all necessary precautions including change of accessibility credentials, maintaining records etc along with the precautions,” the Home Department notified.
The mobile data services on both post and pre-paid telephones will be available from the midnight tonight and remain in force till January 31 or unless modified earlier, the order said.
“The Telecom Service Providers will continue with the process for verification of credentials of pre-paid SIM card holders as per the norms applicable for post-paid connections,” the order said, adding that the access/communication facilities made available by the Government by way of e-terminals/internet kiosks apart from special arrangements for tourists, students, traders etc will continue.
The Government ordered that Inspector Generals of Police (IGPs) of Jammu and Kashmir divisions will ensure communication of directions to Telecom and Internet Service providers forthwith and ensure implementation of the directions with immediate effect.
The Government order said pursuant to its orders of January 14 and 18 (in which 2G data services were restored in five districts of Jammu region including Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Udhampur and Reasi followed by Kupwara and Bandipora districts of the Valley and resumption of Voice Call and SMS facility in pre-paid mobile phones in the Valley), the Law Enforcement agencies have not reported any adverse impact so far.
However, the order said, the agencies have expressed apprehensions of misuse of internet for propagation of terror activities and incitement of general public by circulation of inflammatory material, coordination of activities inimical to the security of the UT or maintenance of public order.