A Sorry State Of Affairs!
India – the largest democracy in the world – tops with most Internet shutdown, globally, this year!
Access Now – an international non-profit, human rights, public policy, and advocacy group dedicated to an open and free Internet – has stated in its latest report that the Government of India has imposed restriction on Internet service many a times in different places in the last 12 months. As per the report, restriction has been imposed on Internet service 373 times since January 2012!
According to Access Now, the Indians have experienced Internet shutdowns 91 times so far this year. And, the number was 134 in 2018. The group has revealed the numbers on the basis of registered cases. The actual number is quite higher.
The telecommunication companies claimed that they had shut down Internet services under special circumstances, after receiving instructions from the provincial or the Indian Government. They also said that they did so whenever demonstrators flooded the streets, as it was important to restore the law and order situation. Since 2012, the Internet service has been restricted 180 times in northern region of Kashmir!
The Government of India started monitoring the Internet service in 2010. However, the number of shutdown doubled in 2014. Citing a report prepared by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, Access Now said that Internet shutdowns from 2012 to 2017 cost India’s economy more than USD 3 billion!
Although longer internet blackouts (than in India) have taken place in countries like China and Myanmar, those are not democracies. The Indians, who form part of one of the fastest growing global Internet markets, have strongly criticised their Government for imposing restrictions on free speech. They have also slammed the regressive political leadership for its knee-jerk reaction to unrests by suspending the Internet. In fact, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made Internet connectivity a major poll plank before he won his first term as the PM in 2014. He also championed the Government initiative, Digital India, that was aimed at strengthening the South Asian country’s digital infrastructure. It is unfortunate that India has become the world leader in Internet shutdowns during his second term…
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