On Wednesday, the Indian government launched a major overhaul of the country’s Internet policy, revising the countrys strict definition of the internet and allowing more freedom for its citizens.
In the process, it is opening up the country to a massive online backlash, with millions of people expressing outrage over the government’s actions.
The new Internet Policy Directive, or IPD, will come into effect in the coming weeks, with it effectively turning India into a totalitarian surveillance state, according to India Today.
Under the new rules, Indian ISPs will have to delete the entire internet, and will be required to report their users’ personal information to authorities.
In addition, the government will also require companies to create a “national network of information sharing centers” in every Indian state.
This is likely to mean that Indian ISPs have to share data with the government, which will be used to target citizens based on their online activity.
India Today reports that the Internet Policy Directorate is now in the final stages of drafting the draft.
“The new draft, which is being prepared in consultation with the Prime Minister and the Home Minister, will require ISPs to create and maintain national network of intelligence centers,” a government official told the news outlet.
“This is an unprecedented step and a massive expansion of government surveillance power.”
“The government is making an unprecedented move to control the Internet,” a prominent activist from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) told The Washington Post.
“It’s the equivalent of a dictatorship in a nutshell.”
This is the first time in Indian history that the government has taken such a step, according the EFF.
“When the government makes sweeping changes to the law on the Internet, it needs to consider the public’s safety, privacy, and other issues,” the organization wrote in a statement.
“While this policy does not explicitly target users, the draft does make clear that it will apply to any online activity, whether it is an online search, a social media post, a post on a website, or even a video clip posted by a Facebook user.”
EFF also called on India to reconsider the “right to privacy.”
“This would be a significant setback to Indian privacy rights and the First Amendment rights that the country enjoys under the Constitution,” the group wrote in its statement.
EFF has argued that the internet in India is not an equal platform, and that the new law will lead to the surveillance of online speech.
“We fear that these changes will enable the government to effectively censor speech online without any legal recourse,” the advocacy group added.
India’s government is reportedly drafting a draft law to allow for the collection of data from all Internet users without any oversight or oversight committees.
The draft law is currently being discussed in parliament, which could also have a bearing on the IPD.
In a statement to India’s parliament, the Home Ministry’s director general, Gaurav Sharma, told the parliament that “the government’s intention to strengthen the Indian Internet network and the implementation of the IPT is in line with our commitment to safeguard privacy and civil liberties.”
The Indian government has long attempted to restrict the rights of its citizens online.
In February, India announced plans to restrict its citizens’ access to certain social media sites, including WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ as well as certain websites and applications.
India has also attempted to censor news websites in recent years, restricting access to news portals in particular.
In 2015, the country banned social media in India, a move which was later overturned by a Supreme Court ruling.