This section lists down news articles featuring SFLC.in's Internet Shutdowns Tracker
According to Internet Shutdowns, a tracker by SFLC.in, India saw 83 shutdowns in 2020, and in just a little over a month in 2021, there have been seven shutdowns so far. India shut off the internet 83 times in 2020, a year in which the country was in the middle of a pandemic, when internet access was all the more significant. According to reports on yet-to-be published data by Access Now and the KeepItOn coalition, India ranked 1 in the world in terms of Internet shutdowns.
A joint statement by the Internet Freedom Foundation, Free Software Movement of India and the Software Freedom Law Center (which runs Internet Shutdowns) made after the Internet shutdown during the farmers’ protest, noted the fear that Internet shutdowns have become “the government's routine response to protests”.
Stating that the Internet shutdown orders were “impermissibly vague”, the statement added that Internet shutdowns may be counterproductive. Further, “...Empirical studies suggest that internet shutdowns incentivize disorganized violence by cutting off channels for communication and coordination which are necessary for planned peaceful protests. There is already substantial police and paramilitary presence at the protest sites to identify and stop individuals who may be engaging in illegal activities, and a blanket Internet shutdown which deprives lakhs of people of internet access is wholly unnecessary,”
“The harm caused by these internet shutdowns outweigh any speculative benefit,” the statement added, noting that it inconveniences those who live around the protest sites.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology discussed the impact of Internet shutdowns, Chairperson Shashi Tharoor tweeted. As per the schedule, the Committee heard representations from the Union Home Ministry, and state governments of Delhi and Bihar. At least ten members attended the meeting. The news piece refers to the SFLC's Internet Shutdown tracker to describe the number of Internet shutdowns in Bihar since 2016.
On Sunday, India restored 4G internet services in two districts of Kashmir, Reuters reported, in a region which has been the site of the longest internet shutdown ever in any democracy. Authorities shut down the internet in Jammu and Kashmir beginning in August 2019 when the Narendra Modi administration stripped the region of its previous autonomy and then began a long and harsh crackdown on residents. Chinese state propaganda outlets have even been quick to jump on these events as an absurd justification for cyber sovereignty measures — aka using them as a bad excuse for internet repression within China. As Sundar Krishnan, executive director of internet advocacy group SFLC.in, told The Guardian back in January, “According to law, an internet shutdown can only be imposed is if there’s a public safety precaution or a public emergency, but unfortunately these two words are not defined in any legislation of India.” Hence it is unclear why still in August 2020, free and open internet connectivity is not fully restored for many in the region, and restrictions on the web linger.
Spring arrived, as always in the Kashmir Valley, with melting snow and blossoming chinar trees. This year, though, brought something new. On March 18, in Srinagar, the largest city in the Himalayan region of Kashmir, a man tested positive for COVID-19—the first in the valley. The mayor asked everyone to stay home, but the message didn’t travel widely. Communication across Kashmir was limited, mobile-phone services were often disrupted, and internet speeds were stuck at a plodding 2G. So although some Kashmiris followed the order to shelter in place, many had no idea they were at risk. “We knew nothing about the virus,” says Omar Salim Akhtar, a urologist at the Government Medical College in Srinagar. “Even health workers were helpless. We had to ask people traveling outside Kashmir to download the medical guidelines and bring back printouts.”
The Calcutta High Court is scheduled to convene a special hearing on Saturday, May 16 to hear a challenge to the orders of the authorities to snap internet services on May 12 in Hooghly following communal violence in the area. (SFLC.in vs West Bengal)
The article talks about the organic increase in the number of Internet shutdowns between the time period of 2017 and 2019. The internet services have been ordered to be shut for as much as 314 times in the span of three years and 95 of such instances have lasted around 95 days. The article relies on the data compiled by the SFLC.
Kashmir is not alone. The latest instance of Internet shutdown was in Uttar Pradesh's Saharanpur after the arrest of Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Ravan. Yogi Adityanath's government ordered a ban on mobile internet service there under Section 144 of the Criminial Procedure Code, 1973, otherwise known as an unlawful assembly. Before this, there were shutdowns in Mandsaur and Nashik where farmers have been protesting against the government since 1 June, 2020
Across India, there have been four internet shutdowns in 2020 and 382 shutdowns since 2012, according to data from the Internet Shutdown Tracker maintained by the New Delhi-based Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC), which works to protect digital safety. The Internet shutdown in Kashmir, imposed on August 4, 2019, has been in place for over six months, making it the longest in any democratic country. A few dozen whitelisted sites were initially allowed on 2G speeds from January 25, 2020, but experts have called this an eyewash as most websites either did not open or the speeds were so slow that it is impossible to get any work done.
The announcement applied only to 301 websites, and many Kashmiris said they were still in an information black hole.
The government of India cannot push for Digital India on one hand and use the kill switch to turn it off with the other.
While the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) report says that there were 451 Mn monthly active internet users at the end of the financial year 2019, a report by internet advocacy group Access Now says that India led the world in internet shutdowns with 67% of the total recorded worldwide in 2018. Another report by the Software Freedom Law Center, which tracks internet suspensions, says that since January 2012, there have been 373 halts in India’s internet service.
Anti-Citizenship Act protests: Mobile internet services have been shutdown in some parts of the Delhi by Airtel and Vodafone as Section 144 of CRPC was imposed.
More than 60 million people across India have been cut off from the Internet, some for over 100 days, a moved hailed only by China.
Millions of mobile phones in New Delhi, India’s capital, went dead on Thursday after the city’s police department ordered the country’s largest carriers to stop voice, text, and internet services in the wake of massive protests against a controversial new citizenship law that discriminates against Muslims.
India, the world’s largest democracy, shuts down the internet far more than any other country. This week, 60 million people — roughly the size of France — have no service.
Pharmacists can’t restock medicines; workers aren’t being paid. But the government still loves to block the internet for “peace and tranquillity.”
Africa and Asia are the two continents most affected by internet shutdowns, and India is by far the greatest perpetrator: 67% of #KeepItOn’s documented shutdowns in 2018 have taken place in India, with 134 incidents.