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Rediff.com  » News » How Much Internet Shutdowns Cost India

How Much Internet Shutdowns Cost India

By Anoushka Sawhney
June 27, 2023 10:29 IST
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India has incurred the third highest losses globally due to Internet shutdowns in 2023.

IMAGE: Kindly note the image has been posted only for representational purposes. Photograph: Kind courtesy cottonbro studio/Pexels.com
 

Internet shutdowns across the country have cost India more in the first six months of 2023 than in the whole of previous year.

In monetary terms, the total value of Internet shutdowns touched $255.2 million by June 2023, while it was $184.3 million in 2022, according to the data from global tracker Top10VPN.

Amid an ongoing ethnic clash between the Meitei community and the Kuki tribe in Manipur, the state government on June 15 extended the Internet ban till June 20 to maintain law and order.

The Internet has now been shut in state for over 40 days.

India has incurred the third highest losses globally due to Internet shutdowns in 2023, so far.

Ethiopia, which has just come out of a two-year war, is the most affected, while Myanmar, where a military coup displaced civilian government in 2021, is second (chart 1).

The cost of Internet shutdown is calculated using the Netblocks Cost of Shutdown Tool based on the method developed by the Brookings Institution. It evaluates the impact on a country's gross domestic product from the shutdown.

As of June 18, Internet shutdowns continued for 2,353 hours, affecting 43.2 million users in India, according to Top10VPN (chart 2).

The shutdowns have cost India over $5 billion since 2019, according to its estimates.

Other reports have made similar claims. For example, a February 2023 report by non-profit Access Now showed that in 2022, India accounted for the maximum number of Internet shutdowns across the world for the fifth year in a row.

The country had recorded 84 shutdowns in 2022, compared to 107 the previous year. This year, from January 1 to May 19, the country witnessed 33 shutdowns. Globally, there were 80 shutdowns during the same period.

India accounted for nearly 40 per cent of Internet shutdowns in the world so far this year, according to Access Now data.

According to a report by non-governmental organisations Human Rights Watch (and Internet Freedom Foundation, between January 2020 and December 2022, Rajasthan imposed Internet shutdowns 85 times, the highest among 28 states.

In January 2020, the Supreme Court had said that Internet shutdowns should not be routine and established guidelines must be followed in case of shutdowns.

Arunachal Pradesh has had eight Internet suspensions since then, followed by Maharashtra and West Bengal (six each).

The report by HRW and IFF also said that of the 18 states that faced Internet bans, '11 -- Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and Telangana -- did not publish suspension orders as directed by the Supreme Court."

It also noted that shutdowns impact the most vulnerable and 'marginalised populations who depend on government programs and social protection systems.'

The data does not include shutdowns in Jammu and Kashmir. However, data from Software Freedom Law Center shows that the erstwhile state has recorded the maximum number of Internet shutdowns in the country.

Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com

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Anoushka Sawhney
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