Number of internet shutdowns India 2012-2021

Between January 2012 and March 2021, there were 518 government-imposed internet shutdowns across India, resulting in the highest number of internet blocks in the world so far. According to the Freedom House Index ratings of 2019, India was labelled a partially free democracy and scored a mediocre 55 points out of 100 on the freedom of internet parameters.

Cost of shutdowns

In 2019, India’s forced internet blackouts lasted well over four thousand hours, resulting in an economic loss of over 1.3 billion U.S. dollars, third in the world’s most economically affected countries, after Iraq and Sudan. The report added that India’s internet blackouts tend to be highly targeted and at times they are down to the level of individual blacklisting. Some internet shutdowns are imposed for a few hours in just a few city districts, while others are a blanket restriction of all internet services across larger regions in the country. As such, the report warns that the full economic impact is likely to be much higher than the stated figures.

Justifications for internet shutdowns

In 2016, the United Nations declared internet access as a basic human right. Despite this, many governments including India seem to be normalizing internet shutdowns. Public safety was the most common government justification to enable internet shutdowns in 2018, followed by national security. Fake news or hate speech, usually called disinformation, was ranked third. However, official justifications for shutdowns rarely seemed to match actual causes, which frequently included political instability and civilian protests.

Number of government-imposed internet shutdowns in India from 2012 to 2021

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Sources

Release date

March 2021

Region

India

Survey time period

2012 to 2021

Supplementary notes

The source defines an internet shutdown as a government-imposed disablement of access to the internet as a whole within a particular locality or localities for any duration of time.

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Statistics on "Internet freedom in India"

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