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Internet in Valley: 153 websites on whitelist, social media & news out

While the Jammu and Kashmir administration on January 15 announced restoration of broadband services for essential services in the Valley, about 153 websites have been included in the government’s “whitelist” and all social media and news websites remain barred.

Among the 153 websites on the whitelist are four email services, including Gmail and Outlook, 15 banking websites, including RBI, J&K Bank, PayPal and Western Union, three employment websites, 38 educational websites, including websites of five J&K-based universities and Wikipedia.

The Incredible India website and the site for the Amarnath Shrine Board are among the 20 travel websites on the list. Income tax e-filing, passport and UIDAI websites will also be available where broadband services are operational. Entertainment websites such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hotstar are among the 11 domains on the whitelist.

Mobile Internet and broadband services have been suspended in the Valley since the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was revoked. Postpaid mobile phones have become operational in the Valley after 70 days. SMS services were restored on January 1.

On January 10, the Supreme Court had called for a review of the Internet shutdown in the Valley and stated that the freedom of speech and expression through the Internet is an integral part of Article 19(1)(a) and any restriction on it must be in compliance with Article 19(2) of the Constitution.

An order issued by the state Home department on January 14 states that “prior to giving such facility (Internet), the ISPs shall install necessary firewalls and carry out ‘whitelisting’ of sites that would enable access to government websites and websites dealing with essential services, e-banking, etc., excluding however, all the social media sites”.

A review committee headed by J&K Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam will review the order within seven days.

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