Internet shutdown cases decline 14% in H1, 2022: Study

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Mumbai: Internet shutdown cases have reduced in the first half of 2022 globally compared to the same period in 2021. According to cybersecurity company Surfshark’s study, internet shutdown cases declined by 14% in H1, 2022 to 72 from 84 in H1, 2021.

Ten countries recorded internet disruptions and restrictions. 85% is from India and the Jammu and Kashmir region, making Asia the leading continent in internet shutdowns.

Asia also leads in terms of social media disruptions over the period of seven years. Of 72 internet disruption cases in 2022, six times the social media platforms were targeted. Twice in Europe and Africa, and once in Asia and South America.

Despite a decrease in cases, new internet disruptions affected 1.89 billion people more in H1, 2022 compared to 1.54 billion in H2, 2021.

“We see a positive trend of internet restriction cases going down this half of the year. Nevertheless, the number of countries that use internet disruptions as a weapon to silence citizens’ unrest remains worryingly high,” said Agneska Sablovskaja, Lead Researcher – Surfshark.

“Most cases are of national or local magnitude where the internet is slowed or completely shut down, leaving its people without most of their communication means,“ added Sablovskaja.

In the first half of 2022, Surfshark registered 66 internet blackouts in six countries and territories — Burkina Faso, India, Jammu and Kashmir, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, and Sudan.

Locally, the internet was shut down in three countries and territories – India, the Jammu and Kashmir region, and Pakistan. In comparison, three countries (Burkina Faso, Kazakhstan, and Sudan) chose to cut down internet connections nationwide, even though it cripples the economy the most.

85% of internet shutdown cases (61) happened in India and the Jammu and Kashmir region, twice in Burkina Faso, and once in the rest of the affected countries. Asia is considered the most censored continent worldwide during the past six months, as per the study.

“The slight decrease in observed nation-scale internet shutdowns in early 2022 follows a period of unprecedented reliance on the internet during the pandemic,” said Alp Toker, CEO of NetBlocks – a global internet watchdog organisation.

“Yet this is no reprieve — around the world the overall decline in freedoms continues, which is why it is essential to monitor and support human rights and democracy in the digital sphere,” added Toker.

Since 2015, around 5.7 billion people in 76 countries deprived of internet access, as per Surfshark’s study.

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