India Addicted To Cutting Off Internet Access‽
Considering how net-savvy citizens from India 🇮🇳 are, I am surprised by the news that the world's largest democracy is also the world's biggest internet access cutter.
Between 2016 and this May, India accounted for more than half of all the shutdowns recorded worldwide by an international coalition of more than 300 digital rights groups led by Access Now, a nonprofit. On more than 680 occasions during that period, state and local officials in India issued legal orders requiring the country's handful of telecommunication companies to suspend mobile data transmission from cell towers and freeze wired broadband connections.
Indian officials argue that the measure is necessary to prevent the spread of online rumors and contain unrest. But by enforcing a digital blackout, critics say, the government can stifle dissent, cover up abuses and stymie independent reporting that challenges official accounts during times of conflict. The tactic can also exact a drastic, far-reaching economic toll, disrupting commerce, work and education. (Washington Post)
No government wants chaos to result from an Internet rumor, but cutting off access to everyone hurts small businesses and banking services. It also leads to distrust from official or government sources, giving public credibility to even the most outlandish rumors.
I doubt India 🇮🇳 will consider simply allowing the internet to stay on. Still, if they keep shutting down access to the internet every time a crisis emerges, it will eventually lead towards businesses seeking greener pastures elsewhere to avoid stagnation at home.
Image via: Dig Watch