New research has found that there were 187 internet shutdowns in 2022, and this is a new record. In fact, a record number of countries have shut down the Internet as a result of political upheaval.
India has been identified as the “worst culprit” with at least 84 internet outages in 2022.
187 internet shutdowns in 2022 – new record set
There will be 187 shutdowns in 2022, according to research by internet rights organization Access Now and the #KeepItOn coalition. These have been implemented by governments in 35 countries, the most in a single year since the groups began tracking internet outages in 2016.
Protests, conflict and allegations of human rights abuses prompted most closures, with a smaller number coinciding with school exams and elections.
According to the report’s findings regarding India, most of these incidents occurred in the disputed regions of Jammu and Kashmir, both of which have long been gripped by political insecurity, although the practice has spread to other parts of the country.
Other repeat offenders include Iran, which has shut down the internet 18 times in response to anti-regime protests, and the Myanmar junta, which has imposed seven power cuts.
Switch-off frequency increasing?
Russia’s military used missile attacks and cyberattacks to shut down the internet 22 times in Ukraine, and it also attempted to “force occupied territories into heavily censored and monitored Russian networks,” according to the report.
Additionally, amid allegations of killings, rape and ethnic cleansing, the Ethiopian government imposed a power blackout on the rebellious Tigray region that lasted more than two years, according to Access Now and #KeepItOn. Tigray’s phone and mobile internet services were restored after a ceasefire agreement was signed in November, but some areas remain cut off.
Access Now’s Felicia Anthonio explained: “Governments are using internet shutdowns as weapons of control and shields of impunity. In 2022, under authoritarian regimes and in democracies, those in power accelerated their use of these callous tactics, disrupting the internet to fuel their oppressive agendas – manipulating narratives, silencing voices, and providing cover for their own acts of violence and abuse.”
According to the report, internet outages peaked in 2019 with 213 blackouts (in 33 countries) before falling to 159 in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The authors of the report warn that shutdowns are now more frequent.