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Media Access Control (MAC) Binding

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Media Access Control (MAC) Binding

Mains level : Internet shutdown as an infringement of FR

After seven months, the use of social media was allowed in Jammu and Kashmir with an order laying down the latest rules for the use of the Internet in the UT.  Among various conditions, the order says Internet connectivity will be made available “with mac-binding”.

What is Mac-binding?

  • Every device has a Media Access Control (MAC) address, a hardware identification number that is unique to it. While accessing the Internet, every device is assigned an IP address.
  • Mac-binding essentially means binding together the MAC and IP addresses, so that all requests from that IP address are served only by the computer having that particular MAC address.
  • In effect, it means that if the IP address or the MAC address changes, the device can no longer access the Internet.
  • Also, monitoring authorities can trace the specific system from which a particular online activity was carried out.

Permitted connections

  • The Internet can be accessed on all postpaid devices, and those using Local Area Networks (LAN).
  • While the postpaid SIM card holders shall continue to be provided access to the Internet, these services shall not be made available on prepaid SIM cards unless verified as per the norms applicable for postpaid connections.
  • Apart from this, special access terminals provided by the government will continue to run.
  • It is further directed that the access/communication facilities provided by the government, viz. e-terminals/Internet kiosks apart from special arrangements for tourists, students, traders etc shall continue.

Only 2G permitted

  • Internet speed in J&K is still restricted to 2G.
  • This means very slow services — pictures will take a long time to be sent or downloaded, videos will be nearly impossible to share, and there will be a long loading time for most websites.
  • It also means that although in theory, the “whitelist system” — where people could only access some websites pre-approved by the government — has been removed, some sites designed for a 4G Internet experience will hardly work.

Have curbs been lifted?

  • Not exactly. The latest order is to remain in force till March 17 unless modified earlier.
  • The government has been relaxing Internet and phone usage in the UTs in phases.
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