Internet censorship cost the global economy $5.5 billion in 2021, report says

Internet censorship cost the global economy $5.5 billion in 2021, report says
Protesters take part in a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar on November 10, 2021.AFP via Getty Images
  • Internet shutdowns cost the global economy $5.5 billion in 2021, per digital rights group Top10VPN.
  • Myanmar was the most severely impacted, losing an estimated $2.8 billion to shutdowns.

Internet blackouts, social media shutdowns, and bandwidth-throttling by governments cost the global economy $5.5 a total of billion in 2021, according to an annual report by digital security and rights group Top10VPN.

According to Top10VPN Myanmar's economy was most severely impacted by internet shutdowns. Myanmar's military seized power in a coup in February 2021. This was followed by extensive internet and social media shutdowns.

Top10VPN estimates the country's economy took a blow of $2.8 billion as a result.

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Nigeria was estimated to be the second-most economically impacted country this year after it blocked access to Twitter in June. Top10VPN calculated the economic loss to be $1.5 billion.

According to Top10VPN's annual reports, the economic cost of government-enforced internet shutdowns grew 36% last year compared to 2020.


While Top10VPN estimated roughly 486 million people million people were affected by government-imposed internet blackouts in 2021. This was compared with 268 million in 2020 — an increase of 81%.

"From advertising to customer support, social media platforms are a vital tool for companies around the world and when they're taken offline they can really suffer," Samuel Woodhams, one of the report's authors, told Insider.

"The economic harm of these restrictions pales in comparison to the human cost. However, with internet restrictions imposed in Kazakhstan and Sudan already in 2022, internet shutdowns are far from becoming a thing of the past," Woodhams added.

Top10VPN calculates the economic impact of internet shutdowns by measuring the duration of shutdowns around the world before feeding them through a tool developed by NGO The Internet Society.