Ultimate magazine theme for WordPress.

India, the world’s largest democracy, tops the global list of internet shutdowns



India imposed the highest number of internet shutdowns in the world in 2022, a new report has revealed, in what critics say is another blow to the country’s commitment to freedom of speech. expression and access to information.

Of 187 internet shutdowns recorded globally, 84 took place in India, according to the report released Tuesday by Access Now, a New York-based advocacy group that tracks internet freedom.

It is the fifth consecutive year that the world’s largest democracy with more than 1.3 billion people has topped the list, the group said, raising concerns about India’s commitment to internet freedom under his current Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. .

“The responsibility of Indian states for the majority of lockdowns around the world is impossible to ignore and is a deep problem in itself,” the report said. “Authorities in parts of the country are increasingly resorting to this repressive measure, inflicting closures on more people in more places.”

Nearly 60% of India’s internet shutdowns last year occurred in Indian-administered Kashmir, where authorities cut off access due to “political instability and violence”, according to the report.

In August 2019, the BJP revoked the autonomy of the Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir and divided it into two federally administered territories, placing the region under increased control from New Delhi. The unprecedented decision sparked protests and the government has frequently restricted lines of communication since, rights groups say, aims to stifle dissent.

Apart from Jammu and Kashmir, authorities in West Bengal and Rajasthan states have imposed more lockdowns than other Indian regions in response to “protests, communal violence and examinations”, according to the report.

India has the second largest digital population in the world, after China, with over 800 million internet users. The internet has become a vital social and economic lifeline for large swaths of the population and connects the country’s isolated rural pockets to its growing cities.

The disruptions “impacted the daily lives of millions of people for hundreds of hours in 2022”, the report said.

The Access Now report comes at a time when India’s commitment to freedom of speech and expression is coming under increasing scrutiny.

In January, the country banned a BBC documentary criticizing Modi’s alleged role in deadly riots more than 20 years ago. Indian tax authorities raided BBC offices in New Delhi and Mumbai in the weeks that followed, citing “irregularities and discrepancies” in the broadcaster’s taxes.

But government critics were unconvinced, instead calling the raids a “clear case of blood feud” and accusing the BJP of intimidating the media.

New Delhi police last week arrested a senior opposition politician for allegedly ‘disturbing harmony’ after he misspoke the prime minister’s middle name, a move Modi’s critics have likened to a “dictatorial behavior”.

In recent years, the government has repeatedly justified blocking internet access on the grounds of preserving public safety amid widespread fears of mob violence.

As the country was in the midst of its general elections in 2019, with more than 900 million people eligible to vote, some Indians were denied internet access for days as they prepared to vote.

Authorities said the lockdown was ‘a precautionary measure to maintain law and order’, leading many critics to question India’s grand exercise of political freedom in biggest election in the world.

During a nearly year-long protest by angry farmers in 2021 over controversial new pricing laws, the Indian government blocked internet access in several districts after violent skirmishes broke out between protesters and the police.

Aam Aadmi party supporters take part in a protest held in Amritsar on August 31, 2021 following clashes between police and farmers.

Some individual cuts have been challenged in court, and efforts are being made to change the country’s laws to make these cuts harder to enforce.

The past year has seen more internet shutdowns around the world than ever before, Access Now said, prompting the group to raise fears of “digital authoritarianism” as governments continue the trend.

Apart from India, other countries that have experienced internet shutdowns in the last year include Ukraine, Iran and Myanmar.

During Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine, the Kremlin cut internet access at least 22 times, according to Access Now, engaging in “cyberattacks and deliberate destruction of telecommunications infrastructure”.

The Iranian regime has responded to protests sparked by the death in custody of 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman Mahsa Amini by imposing 18 shutdowns – a move Access Now called “a further escalation of its repressive tactics”.

Myanmar, which in 2021 saw the junta depose its democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, has experienced seven internet blackouts, according to the report. The Southeast Asian country continues to be rocked by violence and instability, while many grapple with shortages of fuel, food and basic supplies

“The army persisted in keeping people in the dark for long periods of time, targeting areas where resistance to the coup is strongest,” the report said.

If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – at itipspedia@gmail.com The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Leave A Reply