India remained on the top in the global list of countries imposing internet shutdowns for the fifth successive year in 2022, states the latest report released on February 28 by New York-based internet advocacy watchdog ‘Access Now’. The report says that 84 out of 187 internet shutdowns imposed across the world last year were recorded in India.
Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) alone had a total of 49 such blackouts. As per the report, the internet shutdowns in Jammu and Kashmir were imposed due to ‘political instability’ and violence. This included a string of 16 back-to-back orders for the three-day-long curfew-style shutdowns affected in January and February last year. Ukraine, embroiled in an armed conflict with Russia, was second on the list. It recorded 22 internet shutdowns after an armed conflict with Russia broke out on February 23 last year.
Iran figured at number three on the list, having imposed internet shutdowns on 18 occasions last year to foil protests and agitations. In 2021, around 80 percent of all internet shutdowns in India were imposed in J&K, compared to 58 percent in 2022. Besides Jammu and Kashmir, the authorities in West Bengal and Rajasthan imposed internet shutdowns 7 and 12 times respectively in response to protests and violence.
According to the report, Indian authority ties blocked at least 55,607 websites, URLs, mobile applications, social media posts and accounts between 2015 and 2022. In 2021, 107 incidents of internet shutdown were recorded in India with orders to take down 6,096 social media posts, while 6,775 social media posts and accounts were ordered to be taken down last year. Myanmar remained at number four on the list of countries imposing frequent internet shutdowns. According to the report, internet shutdowns were imposed in 35 countries across the world including India in 2022.
An interesting finding in the report is that 62 internet shutdowns in 16 countries were imposed due to protests and 35 due to active conflicts in 2022. Eight instances of net blackouts in 6 countries were attributed to a bid to prevent the use of unfair means in examinations while 5 internet shutdowns in 5 countries were imposed due to election.