11 Jan 2020
Last year, India lost over $1.3 billion from internet shutdowns
The problem of internet shutdowns has grown worse over the years, affecting both businesses and households alike.
Delving further into the seriousness of the situation, a new report has revealed that internet blackouts conducted in 2019 alone have cost more than $1.3 billion to the Indian economy.
Here's all you need to know about it.
India among worst-hit countries
According to a detailed economic analysis conducted by UK-based tech research firm Top10Vpn, India is the third worst-hit country from internet shutdowns.
In 2019, different parts of the country witnessed 4,196 hours of internet blackout, which affected as many as 8.4 million people and cost the economy a whopping $1.329 billion.
Only Iran and Sudan were hit worse than this.
How they calculated the economic impact?
Top10Vpn's researchers calculated the economic impact of internet disruption and data blackout in India by collating region-wide instances, their duration and feeding that data into the Cost of Shutdown Tool.
The program, developed by NGO Netblocks and The Internet Society, predicts the cost of shutdown for a given period by using the indicators from the World Bank, ITU, Eurostat, and the US Census.
Actual impact could be even more
While $1.3 billion worth of loss is scary in itself, the researchers say that the actual amount lost from internet shutdowns in India could be even more.
This is because they only considered national and region-specific shutdowns to get to this estimate, not the highly-targeted, district-level ones - like those carried out in parts of Delhi a few weeks ago.
Shutdowns during civil unrest
The folks at Top10Vpn also noted that the internet shutdowns were mostly witnessed "in response to protests or civil unrest" as governments looked to restrict the flow of information.
This was seen in India, as many cases of shutdowns were reported during critical times like nation-wide protests against Citizenship Amendment Act, revocation of Article 370, and the SC's verdict on the long-disputed Ayodhya case.
Maintaining 'law and order' and 'national security' are main reasons
Meanwhile, the Indian government has justified cutting the internet on the grounds of maintaining "law and order" and "national security" or "preventing the spread of misinformation."
This kind of control has raised concerns among Indians as it keeps them from voicing their opinions, effectively stripping away their freedom of speech as well as the right to information.
Kashmir still remains dark, as we speak
Having said that, it is worth noting that the region of Kashmir still has no internet.
It witnessed intermittent shutdowns in the first half of 2019 before losing complete access to the web following the government's decision to revoke Article 370 of the Constitution, stripping the region of its autonomy.
This has been the longest-ever internet shutdown imposed in a democracy.
Regions affected by internet shutdowns
The regions in India that were affected by internet shutdowns were Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Meghalaya, Rajasthan, Tripura, and Uttar Pradesh.