With 4,196 hours of internet shutdowns, India is the third worst-hit and economically affected country after Iraq and Sudan, a study has revealed.
The internet blackouts impacting 8.4 million internet users in India cost about $1329.8 million in 2019, revealed a study by UK-based tech research firm Top10Vpn.
The states in India that were most affected by the internet blackouts included Jammu & Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Rajasthan and UP.
The economic impact is likely to be higher as local and smaller region-wide blackouts weren’t included.
“India imposes internet restrictions more often than any other country, with over 100 shutdowns documented in 2019,” said Samuel Woodhams and Simon Migliano, authors of the report.
Kashmir, which has been facing internet blackout since Aug 5, has faced the longest internet shutdown in the country.
India’s Home Minister Amit Shah, in Rajya Sabha, had justified the continuation of the internet shutdown citing national security and the fight against terrorism in the region. Shah had said that the curb will be lifted at an appropriate time without giving any timeline.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Friday ordered a review of the restrictions on internet and other modes of communication in Jammu and Kashmir within seven days while hearing a petition challenging the restrictions.
“Power under Section 144 CrPC cannot be used as a curb on the legitimate expression of democratic rights,” said a three-judge bench emphasising internet was part of Right to Speech and Expression granted under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.
India was not the only country to be hit adversely by internet shutdowns. In comparison, Iraq and Sudan had lesser shutdown duration but suffered the highest economic impact in the world.
Globally, over 18,000 hours of internet shutdowns have taken place in the world costing the global economy $8.05 billion last year.
The study, based on Netblocks real-time graphics data and reports and the SFLC.IN Internet Shutdown Tracker, did not include internet outages due to natural disasters or infrastructural failures. Though, It has included social media shutdowns and internet blackouts in its calculations.
Messaging platform WhatsApp witnessed the highest number of shutdowns at 6,236 hours followed by social media giant Facebook, which faced blockage for 6,208 hours. Instagram, Twitter and Youtube followed.