India accounted for most number of intentional internet shutdowns in South Asia 2017-18: UNESCO

India accounted for most number of intentional internet shutdowns in South Asia 2017-18: UNESCO
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  • 82 out of 97 internet shutdowns in South Asia were enforced by the Indian government.
  • 5 out of 6 of the biggest shutdowns came from the country.da
  • Internet shutdowns are increasing around the world.
Citizens of South Asian countries experienced more than 97 internet shutdown in the past year between May 2017 and April 2018, according to a recent report released by the UNESCO-International Federation of Journalists. And, India accounted for 82 out of these 97 shutdowns. The same report said that neighbouring Pakistan accounted for 12 such instances, while Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka witnessed 1 such case each.

The report states that Internet slowdowns and shutdowns around the world are increasing and have become a barrier to the freedom and expression of the press. It describes 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 the general public.”

Essentially, authorities can disrupt the flow of information online and other internet-based services when they need to control communication, thereby hindering the public’s freedom of expression.
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However, the report does state that many of the occurrences were “preemptive” or “reactive”, to prevent “mass or potentially violent public protests”.

Out of 97 instances mentioned in the report, 82 were witnessed by India and nearly half of them were reported in the country’s Kashmir Valley to restrict communication generally followed by military operations. Around 10 cases were reported in Rajasthan while Haryana, Punjab, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh were among the states that witnessed less than 10 cases of internet shutdowns.

India also accounted for five out of six of the biggest instances of internet shutdowns. West Bengal topped the list with a 45-day internet shutdown that was imposed due to mass political demonstrations and clashes between activists seeking a separate state. Nawada, Bihar Jammu and Kashmir, Saharanpur Uttar Pradesh were rest among the list.