India which is home to almost 700 million internet users suffered the longest internet shutdowns in 2020 for the second year running globally. Also Read - Reliance Jio hiring 3,000 for retail and distribution; 4G LTE launch in March: Report
According to a UK-based privacy and security research firm Top10VPN, apart from the disruption of connectivity, the country also suffered the biggest economic impact due to the shutdown. A total of $2.8 billion (roughly Rs 20,458 crores) and 8,927 hours lost, affecting 10.3 million users in total.
Just like in previous years, India continued to restrict internet access more than any other country — over 75 times in 2020.
A country that touts to grow its internet userbase to almost 900 million by the end of this year, these numbers are a cause for worry indeed.
How internet shutdowns were targeted
“The majority of these short blackouts were highly-targeted, affecting groups of villages or individual city districts and so were not included in this report, which focuses on larger region-wide shutdowns. The true economic cost is therefore likely to be even higher than the $2.8 billion we have calculated,” the researchers informed.
The Kashmir region was the most affected in 2020 as it suffered the most number of internet shutdowns amongst any other state in India.
In Kashmir, authorities lifted restrictions in March 2020 after imposing in August 2019.
“However, after the restrictions were lifted authorities continued to severely throttle internet speeds, with citizens only able to access 2G connections,” the report mentioned.
The report also goes on to add that in India, internet blackouts lasted for 1,655 hours while bandwidth throttling resulted in 7,272 hours lost.
“India and Myanmar were responsible for the longest shutdowns for the second year running, with restrictions originally imposed in 2019 continuing throughout 2020,” the report mentioned.
Chad, a country in central Africa, again restricted access to WhatsApp after they blocked the app for more than a year in 2018/19.
“Combined, these countries experienced a total 64 per cent increase in the number of hours of restrictions in 2020, despite the global public health emergency”.
More shocking numbers
The damage is just not close to home. Internet shutdowns across the globe cost the world economy a further $4 billion. This when the world is already battling a deadly pandemic that has caused major economic slowdowns. This, however, represents a 50 per cent decrease in impact compared to $8.05 billion in 2019.
The report goes on to add that 268 million people were affected by major disruptions in 2020 globally, a number that is up by three percent year-on-year.
According to the report, 93 major shutdowns took place in 21 countries in 2020 and the total duration of major disruptions around the world was 27,165 hours, up 49 percent from the previous year.
Globally, internet blackouts resulted in 10,693 hours lost and internet throttling in 10,920 hours lost.
Social media shutdowns resulted in 5,552 hours lost, the report said.
-with inputs from IANS.