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The (DoT) is holding discussions with telecom service providers, device manufacturers, and other stakeholders so that they quickly upgrade their networks and machines to internet protocol version 6, or Once this is done, it will be easier to block specifically to target security and law and order concerns.

At present, such concerns are addressed by imposing a blanket blank for an entire district or taluka. This has been criticised as it leads to huge losses, especially for e-commerce businesses. According to a 2018 study by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, there has been 16,000 hours of in the country over the past five years, leading to a loss of about $3 billion (or Rs 209 billion at current exchange rates.)

The DoT has also written to asking for ways in which such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Telegram and others can be blocked to maintain law and order.

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Confirming the development of DoT pushing for an upgarde, a senior official said: “We have been told that with this, it will be possible to block services more precisely. We are pushing stakeholders to upgrade their networks, devices, and apps to be IPv6-ready.”

Most 4G networks and smartphones have already made the switch, but legacy networks will take some time to change. Even apps need to do this, but the upgrade needs fresh investments.

Experts said the protocol has 340 undecillion IP addresses; this means, every device will have a unique address, making it easier for the DoT to aim for a more granular blocking of devices and services that it can do at present.

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The IPv4 protocol allows only for a finite number of URLs (about 4.3 billion). With the proliferation of personal computers, smartphones, gaming devices etc., there has been a woeful shortage of IP addresses. To meet this shortage, dynamic IP addresses are used. As these are not unique to devices or users, it is impossible to block precise ones.

Experts said IPv6 could address this problem. “IPv6 provides granularity of control, definitely making it easier to block access to certain sites at the router level, maybe even at the device level,” said Gurshabad Grover, policy officer, Centre for Internet & Society.

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Others have a different view. A senior executive of an internet service provider said, “Blocking specific webpages is technically possible. But, fixed IPs will be difficult to generate on mobile browsing. The law demands that specific pages be blocked, not the whole website. There are very few fixed broadband lines in India which run on fixed IPs like office connections.”