Deliberate internet shutdowns are exploding

Deliberate shutdowns of the internet by states increased sharply in 2021 with 182 cases identified by the collective of organizations #KeepItOn in a report published Thursday, an increase of more than 14% compared to 2020.

34 “cutting” countries in 2021

“With the gradual return to normalcy after the spread of the global Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen a dramatic resurgence in internet shutdowns in 2021,” the report authors write. 34 countries cut off access to their citizens last year, up from 29 in 2020.

India is by far the country where the highest number of incidents have been recorded with 106 cuts. A large proportion of these cases have taken place in the territory of Jammu and Kashmir, disputed between India and Pakistan. Burma comes second in the ranking (15 denominations), followed by Iran (5), Sudan (5), Cuba (4) and Jordan (4).

Many contexts

The cuts occurred in various contexts: demonstrations and coups (Burma, Sudan, Iran, Jordan, Pakistan, Eswatini, Cuba, Burkina Faso), elections (Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Niger, Uganda, Zambia ), conflict zones (Ethiopia, Burma, Gaza Strip) or to prevent cheating during exams (Algeria, Syria, Sudan).

#KeepItOn, however, notes a decline in the number of internet suspensions around election time, citing examples of countries such as Benin, Iraq and The Gambia where access was maintained throughout the year. The collective, which brings together 282 organizations in various sectors (NGOs, lobbies, research centers, foundations, media) and in around a hundred countries, also welcomes the condemnations formulated by the G7 and the United Nations against internet shutdowns and network access restrictions.

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