India was ranked the third worst-hit economies in the world due to internet shutdowns after crisis-hit countries Sudan and Iraq. The UK-based tech research firm Top10VPN, on Tuesday (January 7), revealed that around 4,196 hours of internet blackouts in India cost the Indian economy close to $1.3 Bn in 2019.
Top10VPN’s ‘The Global Cost of Internet Shutdowns in 2019’ report stated that some of the most affected Indian states and union territories that were impacted by internet shutdowns included Jammu and Kashmir, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, UP and Rajasthan.
Further, the report stated that over 8.4 Mn internet users in India were impacted across multiple incidents, including the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, disputes over Ayodhya holy site and CAA-NRC protests among others.
Samuel Woodhams, author at Top10VPN told TOI that there were more internet shutdowns in the country in 2019. He also said that India’s economy will be affected further if the government doesn’t take the necessary actions to reduce the number and duration of internet shutdowns.
Simon Migliano, head of research at Top10VPN, further added that the internet shutdown in Jammu and Kashmir is one of the longest shutdowns and has impacted the Indian economy at $1.1 Bn in 2019. The curb of internet services in the northeast and UP due to CAA-NRC resulted in $102 Mn and $63 Mn loss respectively.
Internet Shutdowns At Its Peak In India
According to Access Now, the country constitutes up to 80% of the total internet shutdowns recorded globally in 2019.
In December 2019, the UP government had suspended the internet services in 21 districts due to CAA protest, including Lucknow, Meerut, Kanpur, Ghaziabad, Bulandshahr among others. At the time, the government claimed that the shut down of internet services was a precautionary measure to prevent the circulation of false information or rumours through social media platforms. However, the Top10VPN report did not mention any data about social media blackouts in India.
Apart from UP, in the same month, Delhi also witnessed internet shutdowns in areas like Mandi House, Seelampur, Jaffarbad, Mustafabad, Jamia Nagar, Shaheen Bagh and Bawana, following massive CAA protests. In addition to this, the government had also shut down internet services in various regions of Karnataka, Gujarat, West Bengal, Tripura and others, due to the anti-CAA protest.