wordpress blog stats
Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

India had the highest internet shutdowns in South Asia last year: UNESCO

A report by UNESCO has revealed the threat to basic rights of a citizen in India, with increasing internet shutdowns in the country. The Clampdowns and Courage-South Asia Press Freedom Report 2017-18  counts at least 97 instances of internet shutdowns in South Asia, and a whopping 82 of these happened in India.

In comparison, India’s neighbour Pakistan had 17 instances, while Sri Lanka had one over the course of the year. Bangladesh and Afghanistan’s attempts to implement internet shutdowns were largely averted by timely public outcry, the UNESCO report states.

The report defines internet shutdowns as “any intentional disruption of the broadband or mobile internet or internet-based mobile apps, by an order of the authorities or threat of non-state party, to control communication or online content or slowing down the access to general public”.

These shutdown not only have huge economic costs, they also restrict access to vital information for citizen and impede the work of journalists. The UNESCO report says, “They pose a threat to human rights and block the public’s right to know; and have emerged as a significant tool of censorship by governments which are increasingly utilising shutdowns under the guise of security.”

Shutdowns in India

Kashmir was the hotbed of internet shutdown over the past year, which saw nearly half of the total shutdowns in India. In Darjeeling, a 45-day internet shutdown was ordered due to political demonstrations, protests and clashes by activists. Bihar’s Nawada also had a shutdown for 40 days.  Internet services were suspended for 12 days in Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur, citing communal clashes. Of the six biggest shutdowns in South Asia last year, five were in India.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

How shutdowns impact us

Internet shutdowns can have massive economic impacts. In April, a report by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) revealed that over 16,000 hours of internet shutdowns cost the economy a little over $3 billion over the last five years.

In December last year, Medianama held a discussion on internet shutdowns, where journalists revealed the difficulty they faced during the Darjeeling shutdown, and were unable to file stories. Young students lose contact with their families, and are left to fend for themselves.

Key services like healthcare and banks are also driven to a halt with internet shutdowns.

On the other hand, there remains no substantive data or evidence to prove that internet shutdowns can scale down violence, even as its abuse by the government increases. At the same time, “there is clear evidence that shutdowns deprive citizens’ access to basic, sometimes life-saving services at a time of crisis”.

“While there is a massive increase in numbers of users and growing access to the internet, this has been countered with ever-increasing curbs on freedom of expression in the digital space. Internet shutdowns are being flagged as a major issue in the region by the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) and freedom of expression is the casualty,” the UNESCO report concludes.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.
Written By

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



Looking at the definition of health data, it is difficult to verify whether health IDs are covered by the Bill.


The accession to the Convention brings many advantages, but it could complicate the Brazilian stance at the BRICS and UN levels.


In light of the state's emerging digital healthcare apparatus, how does Clause 12 alter the consent and purpose limitation model?


The collective implication of leaving out ‘proportionality’ from Clause 12 is to provide very wide discretionary powers to the state.


The latest draft is also problematic for companies or service providers that have nothing to with children's data.

You May Also Like


Google has released a Google Travel Trends Report which states that branded budget hotel search queries grew 179% year over year (YOY) in India, in...


135 job openings in over 60 companies are listed at our free Digital and Mobile Job Board: If you’re looking for a job, or...


Rajesh Kumar* doesn’t have many enemies in life. But, Uber, for which he drives a cab everyday, is starting to look like one, he...


By Aroon Deep and Aditya Chunduru You’re reading it here first: Twitter has complied with government requests to censor 52 tweets that mostly criticised...

MediaNama is the premier source of information and analysis on Technology Policy in India. More about MediaNama, and contact information, here.

© 2008-2021 Mixed Bag Media Pvt. Ltd. Developed By PixelVJ

Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields Click to hide
Correct invalid entries Click to hide

© 2008-2021 Mixed Bag Media Pvt. Ltd. Developed By PixelVJ