• 13 June 2024

Disconnected: Tracing the History of Internet Shutdowns in India

Aug 15, 2023

India Remains Internet Shutdown Capital of the World for Fifth Year Running

From 2016 onward, India has been responsible for nearly 58% of all shutdowns recorded in the Shutdown Tracker Optimization Project (STOP database). Surpassing the likes of Ukraine, which currently holds the second position, India has established itself as the sole G20 nation to execute more than two internet shutdowns. In comparison, Russia and Brazil have each enforced two and one internet shutdowns, respectively, in the year 2022.

Key Highlights

  • India experienced 75 Internet shutdowns in the current year (2023).
  • In 2022, India enforced 84 Internet shutdowns, holding the top position globally.
  • The country witnessed 101 Internet shutdowns in 2021.
  • India saw 109 Internet shutdowns in 2020, contributing to a significant global count.
  • In 2019, India imposed 65 Internet shutdowns, impacting digital communication.
  • Jammu & Kashmir faced the highest number of shutdowns (49) in 2022.
  • Rajasthan enforced shutdowns on 12 occasions, while West Bengal ordered 7 shutdowns in the same year.
Internet shutdowns across the world and India

Impact of Long-term Shutdowns in Kashmir:

  • The Internet shutdown in Kashmir led to an economic loss of approximately Rs 40,000 crore ($5.4 billion).
  • Over 4.96 lakh people lost their jobs in Kashmir due to prolonged shutdowns.
  • The academic syllabus for the year had to be reduced by 40% due to low Internet speed and connectivity.

Impact on Various Sectors:

  • Shutdowns severely affected healthcare services, hindering access to online health records and consultations.
  • The gig economy workers, relying on the Internet, faced severe income loss due to shutdowns.
  • Internet disruptions impacted small businesses’ operations, such as online applications and transactions.
  • Educational activities were disrupted, affecting online classes, exams, and learning.

Internet Users and Shutdowns:

  • Around 96.33% of Internet users in India access the Internet through mobile devices.
  • Shutdowns primarily affect mobile Internet services, exacerbating the digital divide.

Economic Losses Due to Shutdowns:

  • India suffered an economic loss of $174.6 million in 2022 due to shutdowns.

Legal Framework and Amendments:

  • Generally, it has been established by the Supreme Court that the prolonged suspension of Internet services is in violation of Indian law.
  • Moreover, in 2020, amendments were introduced to restrict shutdown directives to a maximum duration of 15 days.
  • Furthermore, in 2021, the Standing Committee on Communication and Information Technology proposed additional modifications to the regulations governing Internet shutdowns.

These statistics provide insights into the prevalence in India, their regional impact, economic consequences, and legal framework amendments.

Internet shutdown all over the world
Pic credits: Statista
Number of shutdowns by country

Analytical Breakdown

India’s Internet Shutdowns in 2022:

  • India implemented 84 shutdowns in 2022, the highest globally.
  • These shutdowns aimed to address protests, conflict, exams, elections, and instability.
Internet Shutdown in India
Number of shutdowns in years

Global Internet Shutdown Scenario:

Shutdown of Internet
Pic Credits : Statista
  • In 2022, 187 internet shutdowns occurred across 35 countries.
  • Internet shutdowns impact online communication and democratic movements, sometimes concealing violence.
  • Authorities resort to shutdowns during protests , conflicts, exams, elections, and political instability.

#KeepItOn Campaign and India’s Shutdowns:

  • India contributed to 58% of all shutdowns recorded by Access Now’s Shutdown Tracker Optimization Project (STOP database).
  • Labeled as “dangerous acts of digital authoritarianism” in the report.
  • Ukraine followed India with 22 shutdowns in 2022, and Myanmar endured a shutdown lasting over 570 days.

Impact of Shutdowns on Human Rights:

  • Authorities use shutdowns to hide rights violations and sever communications, affecting human rights monitoring and aid provision.

Internet Shutdown Impact in India:

  • India faced 106 shutdowns in 2021.
  • The economic impact of shutdowns was $174.6 million in 2022.

Legal Framework and Amendments:

  • Suspension of telecom services follows the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency & Public Safety) Rules, 2017.
  • After the Supreme Court’s ruling, they made amendments to limit shutdowns to a maximum of 15 days.
  • The 2023 report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Communication and Information Technology criticized the non-maintenance of Internet shutdown records.

Disinformation and Shutdowns:

  • Shutdowns to combat misinformation can inadvertently encourage its spread.
  • Shutdowns in Kenya failed to curb misinformation during elections.

India’s Internet Shutdowns Record:

  • India’s high number of shutdowns contradicts its status as a democracy.
  • Russia and Brazil also implemented shutdowns in 2022.
  • India enforced 84 shutdowns, though actual numbers may be higher due to unreported shutdown orders.

Overall Concerns:

  • Beyond shutdowns, the Indian government uses censorship, website blocks, and social media takedowns.
  • Some shutdowns may not be publicly disclosed, leading to incomplete records.

Also, read https://thelogicalpie.com/exploring-the-moon-a-comparison-of-chandrayaan-3-and-luna-25-missions/technology/

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