After almost three months of the ban on the internet in the wake of the ongoing violence in the state, the Manipur government has meticulously drafted a concoction of conditions that aims to lift the ban.
Fresh orders issued by the Manipur government on Tuesday announced that the ban on the internet in the state will be "lifted conditionally".
In the new order, the suspension of internet in broadband (ILL and FTTH) is lifted conditionally in a liberated manner with certain conditions and taking up all possible safeguards.
The new order, which is being passed ex-parte in view of the emergent situation, states that the internet connection would be provided through a static IP address and the subscriber would not have other unauthorized new connections. In which the order clearly warns the internet service providers that they will hold them responsible if the condition is fulfilled.
"The subscriber concerned shall not propagate the internet via WIFI or hotspots from any device; this shall not be permitted at any cost."
Reaction from service providers
"Following the new order by the government, our phones have been ringing ever since. Our previous clients asked for a new connection, if possible," said Tomba (name changed), an Internet Service Provider.
The conditions provided by the government are creating confusion for the whole public, he added.
The issue starts with the first condition itself “Static IP”, because it is limited and uses two address protocols, i.e., IPv4 and IPv6, Tomba said, adding that IPv4 can generate two Static IP addresses per user, but how many such IP static addresses can be provided by an ISP is limited, and IPv4 is gradually declining universally.
Any local ISP has a limit of around 500 IP addresses, and other big players will also face the same issue if technically looked at, he said, adding how many law-abiding subscribers or ISPs will be there to follow such conditions, and above that, raise the question of technically sound subscribers.
With IPv6, there is a slightly bigger limit of six static IP addresses, but the whole internet is not fully shifted to this protocol, he added.
Although the ISP allocates all the remaining IP addresses in Manipur, ignoring other states, there still remains a question of feasibility. If the people abide the law, then there will be no need to ban the internet, he added
The order mentions another condition: Blocking VPNs and social media also requires high-end equipment, which is not cost-effective.
VPNs exist in large numbers, and how many can be identified by the ISP and completely uninstalled from the subscriber’s system is unknown, Tomba said.
The order limits the use of broadband internet (Wifi or Hotspot) by several conditions, but it does not specify which login ID and password need to be changed on a daily basis, he further said.
The main confusion arises over whether the new order is out due to the fear of court orders or true public concern.
An internet crime committed by using social media sites cannot be easily identified as multiple users can access the site under the same IP address in a given time frame, and it might exhaust several resources to find out the main culprit.
However, the big question is who will be the authority concerned, competent enough to monitor the internet if thousands are given internet access, as the new order hints that anyone with the right reason can have internet access without the approval of the home department if they sign the undertaking with the ISP.
It has come to our knowledge that some service providers are flooded with requests for new connections, while others have clearly rejected any new connections, as they expressed that they might not be able to meet the concoction of conditions mentioned in the new order issued by the state government.
The public, who are bamboozled and in dire need of internet access for their daily lives, remain in the eye of the cyclone.