India records highest number of Internet shutdowns globally in 2023 – The Hindu

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India witnessed the highest number of Internet shutdowns in the world in 2023, a record it has held for the sixth straight year, according to a report released on Wednesday.

The Internet was snapped 116 times in the country last year, the Keep It On coalition, a grouping of civil society bodies that advocates against Internet blockades, said.

Officials in India continue to impose Internet shutdown orders over communal tension, violence, exams, and other reasons. This has drawn condemnation from civil society in India and around the world, especially in Manipur, where footage documenting atrocities committed during the ethnic violence have gone viral several weeks after the incidents actually took place. 

More and more of these shutdown orders are being applied regionally rather than locally, the report said, with “64 shutdown orders affect[ing] more than one district in the same State, province, or region, driven by 47 shutdowns in Manipur but also including the Statewide shutdown in Punjab in March”. 


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The Internet was shut down across Punjab during the manhunt for pro-Khalistani preacher Amritpal Singh, and multiple times across Manipur during the ongoing ethnic violence in the State. 

“The impacts [of the Internet shutdown in Manipur] were severe, particularly for women, as the shutdowns made it more difficult to document rampant atrocities, including murder, rape, arson, and other gender-based violence, and thereby hold perpetrators accountable,” the report said. 

The publication of Internet shutdown orders — as required by guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court — was not done consistently, the report pointed out. 

“A total of 13 States and Union Territories imposed shutdowns in 2023, where seven of them disrupted Internet services five or more times,” the report said.

“[S]hutdowns spanning over five days or more shot up from 15% of all shutdowns in 2022 to more than 41% in 2023,” it added.

India has collectively had more than 500 instances of Internet shutdowns.

The report highlights the widespread use of the contentious measure. “Despite clear economic effects, disproportionate impacts on marginalised groups, and the shielding of atrocities, authorities continue to implement shutdowns at all levels across India during protests, exams, elections, and communal violence,” it said.

With 37 orders, Myanmar, where the military seized power in a coup in 2021, recorded the second-highest number of Internet shutdowns, followed by Iran (34), Palestine (16), and Ukraine (8).

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