The Manipur government lifted the ban on broadband internet services conditionally in the ethnic violence-hit state on Tuesday, nearly three months after it was suspended. Mobile internet is still banned.
The internet was banned on May 3, the day violence erupted between Meiteis and Kukis in the state. The government order comes over two weeks after the Manipur High Court had directed the home department to partially lift the internet ban.
The Manipur government has allowed for internet to be provided through Internet Lease Lines and Fibre to the Home connections.
Leased lines provide dedicated internet connections that are more expensive than broadband connections and are used typically by businesses. Fibre to the Home, or FTTH, connections refer to a kind of broadband technology that involves the use of fibre-optic cables to transmit data. Such connections are generally more expensive to install than traditional broadband ones.
As per the Manipur government order, the internet will not be provided through WiFi hotspots.
In its order, the Home Department also said that internet connections will only be provided through Static Internet Protocol, or IP. A device is said to have a static IP address when the address does not change over time.
Social media websites and virtual private networks in Manipur will remain blocked.
A virtual private network, or VPN, allows users to mask their location and browse the internet without divulging their search history to the internet service providers by using remote servers. The tool is often used by investigative journalists and ethical hackers to access websites that are banned in their countries.
Commenting on the Manipur government order, Apar Gupta, the executive director of the Internet Freedom Foundation, said that internet will remain accessible only to a small and negligible number of users.
“It is my firm belief the internet shutdown is to serve State interests in avoiding accountability and contouring the media ecology than any evidentiary law and order objective,” he said.