Access Now Report: India Once Again Tops the Global Internet Shutdown ‘Shame’ List

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India has an inglorious distinction of shutting down the internet more than any other nation on earth.

‘It is alarming that the world’s largest democracy – India – continues to be the biggest instigator of internet shutdowns in the world’

Team Clarion

NEW DELHI — India has an inglorious distinction of shutting down the internet more than any other nation on earth.  In the year 2020 the world saw 155 internet shutdowns and of these 109 were reported in the world’s largest democracy, according to a report by Access Now, a global digital advocacy internet group.

The report which explored the reasons behind the “deliberate switch off” its repercussions for communities across the globe said  India used these shutdowns to suppress protests.

“It is alarming that the world’s largest democracy – India – continues to be the biggest instigator of internet shutdowns in the world,” said Raman Jit Singh Chima, senior international Counsel and Asia Specific Policy Director at the Access Now.

“We’ve lived through the targeted blackouts in Jammu and Kashmir for years, and watched shutdowns spread to every part of the country and increasingly being used to target peaceful protestors and hide the actions of the government authorities. People in India live in precarity. This is not on par with the international human rights standards, nor in line with the progressive facade of the Union Government’s Digital India mission”.

The report titled “Shattered dreams and lost opportunities: a year in the fight to #keepiton”  found that  government’s in 29 countries shut down or interfered with the internet. “On day to day bases, this prevented millions of people from working, studying and communicating to their full potential,” said a press statement by the group on Wednesday.

Shutting down the internet during the global health crises is incredibly unsafe,” said Felicia Anthonio, Campaigner and Keepiton lead at Access Now.”

“But with no regard for human life, this is what governments did in 2020- again and again, and again. As our report discets there is no fathomable excuse to justify these abhorrent government actions”.

Key Findings:

  • There were 28 complete internet shutdowns where authorities disabled both broadband and mobile connectivity.
  • India shutdown internet at least 109 times.
  • Shutdowns provided cover for human rights violations in at least 17 incidents, including against protestors in Belarus and Ethopia’s Tigray.
  • Throttling, slowing down the internet, was used to target ,marginalised groups such as Rohingya communities in Myanmar.
  • Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) were blocked in Jammu and Kashmir.

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