Global internet outages hit record high in 2022, Access Now reports


More countries will turn off the internet in 2022 than ever before new report by digital rights researchers as the threat of “digital authoritarianism”. is on the agenda many governments of the world.

Authorities in 35 countries have shut down the Internet at least 187 times, according to Access Now, a New York-based digital rights watchdog. Nearly half of these outages occurred in India, and if that country is excluded, 2022 saw the most outages globally since the group began monitoring outages in 2016. Access Now relied on technical evaluations as well as news articles and personal accounts for its compilation. report that includes complete outages, suspension of specific phone networks or social media applications, and slow internet speeds.

Triggers for shutdowns have included large protests, conflict situations, elections and even investigations. Regardless of the situation, they make it significantly more difficult for people to communicate, receive or send news, and they incur significant economic costs, which has prompted; United Nations last year urging governments to avoid such crude tactics.

“This could be a big warning about how the human rights situation is deteriorating, and the closures are often linked to levels of insecurity and other restrictions,” said Liz Throssell, spokeswoman for the UN Human Rights Office in Geneva.

India is the most prolific in internet shutdowns, topping Access Now’s list for the fifth consecutive year.

Most of the South Asian country’s 84 outages occurred in Indian-administered Kashmir, which is part of the disputed Himalayan region. India has sometimes indicated that it wants to control social unrest in the area where there is a separatist movement. In response to the country’s internet shutdown in Kashmir for more than 100 days Supreme Court In 2020, it ruled that such suspensions must be proportionate and for a fixed period.

India’s Kashmir has the longest internet blackout in a democracy

India’s continued position at the top of the index is alarming, says Access Now’s Asia Policy Director Raman Jeet Singh Cheema. “India is also notable for its refusal [its central government] to respond to criticism and calls for reform of its secession practice and legal structure by India’s parliamentary bodies and earlier court rulings.

Some shutdowns in India are initiated by local governments. Internet surveillance affects only a very small fraction of India’s internet users, said Rajeev Chandrasekhar, a junior minister in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in New Delhi, adding that the characterizations of the “alarming development” are simply wrong.

In 2022, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and mass civil protests in Iran also led to internet shutdowns, Access Now reports.

All 22 reported shutdown incidents in Ukraine were the result of Russian actions, including cyber and airstrikes targeting the country’s communications infrastructure, the report said. Ukrainian Internet services supported by foreign partners remain relatively flexible, The Washington Post reported.

In Russia, Moscow has also blocked access to services such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, part of a broader crackdown on dissent and monitoring propaganda for the invasion of Ukraine, according to the report.

As Tehran violently represses protests sparked by the death of a young woman in the custody of its “morality police,” its theocratic government is also imposing social media blocks. Authorities have set a record 18 blackouts in 2022, which included blocking Instagram and messaging service WhatsApp, the report said. The two global social media platforms were the only ones available in the country in recent years, he added.

In response to the crackdown, the United States in September issued new guidance on some of its export bans, making it easier for tech companies to offer safe platforms and services to Iranians.

Autocrats in Ethiopia and Myanmar have used internet shutdowns to complement a military strategy, cutting off access for selected populations for months or years, the authors say.

Access Now says the internet blackout in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, first imposed in 2020, is the world’s longest active blackout. Phone networks in the region were reported to be back online after a ceasefire in November, but Access Now reported in February that internet access was still slow or degraded.

The military junta that took power in Myanmar after a 2021 coup has also imposed a nationwide internet shutdown. All 330 of its cities experienced at least one closure last year, the report said.

“In 2022, extremists in authoritarian regimes and democracies accelerated their use of these ruthless tactics, disrupting the Internet to advance their oppressive agenda,” Access Now’s Felicia Antonio said in a statement, adding that “open, secure Internet access belongs. everyone, and we will continue to face these attacks on human rights with collective defiance.”

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