India has recorded the second highest number of internet shutdowns until June this year with nine cases, according to Surfshark’s, which tracks such curbs across the globe. The highest number was recorded in Iran with 14 cases, as per the tracker.
This comes over a month after a report by the Human Rights Watch and Internet Freedom Foundation pointed out that at least 54 out of the 127 reported between 2020 and 2022 in India were in response to protests. The digital rights group had also claimed last year that India had witnessed the highest number of internet shutdowns across the globe in 2021 for the fourth consecutive year.
The Surfshark tracker claimed that the data from the first half of this year has “nearly caught up to the total number of restrictions observed in all of 2022, when 10 cases were recorded”.
However, it noted that Jammu and Kashmir has “witnessed a significant decline in new cases, with only two recorded in the first half of 2023 compared to a shocking 35 during the same period in 2022”.
Gabriele Racaityte-Krasauske, Surfshark spokesperson, said, “It is deeply concerning to witness the alarming surge in internet restrictions in India, particularly as so many of them occurred amid protests. These restrictions severely limit people’s ability to spread information to the rest of the world, organise further protests, and contact friends and loved ones.”
The report comes amid continued internet restrictions in Manipur since May 3. This week, the Supreme Court refused to interfere with a high court order which allowed the Biren Singh government to restore internet services in a limited fashion.