April 1, 2023
  • Findings are part of a recent report by UK-based privacy and security research firm Top1OVPN.

Key findings related to India

  • India imposed 34 major shutdowns in 2022, significantly more than any other country in the world.
  • Total cost of Internet restrictions was $184.3 million.
  • Shutdowns were highly localised to specific districts, cities and even villages, and tended to be in response to civil unrest, often pre-emptively.
  • Rajasthan and Jammu & Kashmir endured most extensive major Internet outages.

Internet Shutdowns in India

  • Internet shutdown is defined as an intentional disruption of internet or electronic communications for a specific population or location, to exert control over flow of information.
  • It can be caused by Internet blackouts, Social media shutdowns or Throttling (reduced speed of internet).
  • Legal provisions related to Internet shutdowns in India
    • Until 2017, mostly governed under section 144 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and Indian Telegraph Act 1885.
    • In 2017, Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency and Public Safety) Rules, were notified. Despite rules, government has also used broad powers under section 144.
    • Section 69(A) of IT (Amendment) Act, 2008 gives power to block particular websites.
    • Only Home Secretary of the Union or a state can pass an Internet shutdown order to be reviewed by a committee within 5 days.
    • Under unavoidable circumstances order can be issued by an officer of rank of Joint Secretary or above, authorized by central or state Home Secretary.
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