January 7 2021: The annual report from Top10VPN, a UK-based digital privacy and security research group. analyzes every major intentional internet shutdown in 2020 and reveals that they cost a world economy already devastated by the pandemic a further $4 Billion.
India has topped the list of restricting internet access to citizens more than any other country – over 75 times in 2020, which cost the economy $2.8 billion, finds the report
$4.01BN: economic cost of internet shutdowns globally in 2020, down by 50% from 2019
93 major shutdowns took place in 21 countries in 2020|
27,165 hours: total duration of major disruptions around the world, up 49% from the previous year.
- Internet blackouts: 10,693 hours
- Internet throttling: 10,920 hours
- Social media shutdowns: 5,552 hours
268M people affected by major disruptions in 2020, up 3% year-on-year
India most economically-impacted nation, at a cost of $2.8BN|
Human rights impact: 42% of shutdowns were associated with additional abuses
- 29% of all disruptions associated with restrictions on freedom of assembly
- 15% with election interference
- 12% with infringements on freedom of the press
Intentional major disruptions to internet access lasted 50% longer in 2020 than they did the year before. However they were mainly concentrated in poorer regions and therefore resulted in a lower overall economic impact. While the overall impact on the global economy declined, authoritarian regimes showed little restraint in the face of a global pandemic and poorer countries were disproportionately affected.
India and Myanmar were responsible for the longest shutdowns for the second year running, with restrictions originally imposed in 2019 continuing throughout 2020. Chad again restricted access to WhatsApp after they blocked the app for more than a year in 2018/19. Combined, these countries experienced a total 64% increase in the number of hours of restrictions in 2020, despite the global public health emergency.
And if we look beyond those three most extreme cases, disruptions lasted 3.5% longer on average in 2020 (268 hours per country) than they did the year before (259 hours).
During our analysis of every internet shutdown in 2020, we saw a continuation of the trends we identified the year before. They most often occur in response to protests or civil unrest, especially surrounding elections, as authoritarian regimes look to restrict the flow of information and maintain their grip on power.It’s telling that every shutdown that took place around an election in 2020 coincided with accusations of election interference.While the ongoing global pandemic makes it impossible to predict what will happen in 2021, the evidence suggests that internet shutdowns will continue to cause misery around the world.
Link to full report here