Internet shutdowns across the country cost the Indian economy Rs. 20,000 crore (US$ 2.8 billion) in 2020, constituting almost three-fourths of global economic losses due to internet curbs imposed by governments worldwide.
According to the Global Cost of Internet Shutdowns in 2020 report, not only did India restrict internet access and use more than any other nation included in the report, but it also sustained the greatest economic impact. During 2020, India more than doubled the economic losses it sustained due to internet bans in 2019, when it had ranked third on the list of the biggest economic impacts sustained by countries due to internet bans.
India imposed 8,927 hours of either complete internet blackouts or curbed bandwidth access — affecting more than 10.3 million Indians.
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The New Delhi-based digital rights organization, Software Freedom Law Center, found that there were 83 internet curbs across India in 2020; while 69 of these were from Kashmir alone, several other states, including West Bengal, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh, experienced restrictions as well. However, the shutdown in Kashmir, began in August 2019 and is the world’s longest internet shutdown.
The report noted that in addition to causing hardships in the performance of day-to-day activities like accessing education and medicine and running businesses, the internet ban in India has also affected the human rights of its people to peaceful assembly and jeopardized the freedom of its media.
India’s restrictions in 2020 were part of a global trend, the report found, with internet bans rising by 49% compared to 2019 and affecting 268 million people worldwide.
The report is compiled annually by an international organization called Top10VPN. Countries like China and North Korea, which are already notorious for their internet censorship, weren’t included in the report since information regarding their internet and social media shutdowns aren’t easily available in the public domain.