According to the Keep It On coalition report, India had the most internet shutdowns worldwide in 2023, marking the sixth consecutive year it has held this record.

Key Findings of the Report

  • Record Number of Shutdowns: According to the Report of ‘Keep It On coalition’ and Access Now, a non-profit organization focused on digital rights, India recorded 116 internet shutdowns in 2023. 
  • This represents 41% of the 283 shutdowns reported globally. 
  • Regional Shutdowns Increasing: The report indicated a trend towards regional rather than local shutdowns, with 64 orders affecting multiple districts within the same state or region.          
  • This included 47 shutdowns in Manipur and a statewide shutdown in Punjab. 
  • The report emphasized the severe impact (of the Internet shutdown in Manipur) on women, who found it harder to document and seek accountability for atrocities like murder, rape, and arson due to the shutdowns.
  • Internet shutdowns in Jammu and Kashmir dropped from 49 in 2022 to 17 in 2023.
  • Inconsistent Publication of Orders: The report criticized the inconsistent publication of internet shutdown orders, despite Supreme Court guidelines. 
  • Shutdowns lasting over five days increased from 15% in 2022 to more than 41% in 2023. 
  • Impact on Marginalized Groups: The report underscores the widespread use of this contentious measure, highlights disproportionate effects on marginalized groups, and its role in shielding atrocities. 
  • Despite this, authorities continue to implement shutdowns during protests, exams, elections, and communal violence.
  • Leading Cause: Conflict was the primary reason for global internet shutdowns in 2023, according to Access Now.
  • Shutdowns during conflicts worsen desperation, fear, and panic, endanger lives, hinder humanitarian aid, block emergency healthcare, and obstruct documentation of war crimes.
  • In India, an internet shutdown occurred in Nagaland’s Kiphire district after post-poll violence in February 2023.
  • Impact on Economy: The report highlighted that the Shutdowns reportedly cost the country $1.9 billion and resulted in a loss of $118 million in foreign investment in the first half of 2023 alone.
  • Referring to the Internet Society’s NetLoss Calculator, the report also mentioned that a single-day shutdown can push up to 379 people into unemployment in India.
  • Global Context: Myanmar, with 37 orders, recorded the second-highest number of shutdowns following the military coup in 2021, followed by Iran (34), Palestine (16), and Ukraine (8).

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