Jammu and Kashmir recorded internet shutdowns 24 times last year – the highest in a single region in the world – a study by Surfshark, a virtual private network provider, showed on Tuesday.
The company said that in 2022, the Indian authorities censored the internet on 24 occasions in Jammu and Kashmir, while such actions were taken only 10 times in other parts of the country. Internet shutdowns in Jammu and Kashmir are a regular occurrence, with the authorities often citing precautionary measures as the justification.
On Tuesday, Surfshark said that residents of Jammu and Kashmir have been facing “unprecedented internet restrictions” since 2019 after the revocation of Article 370 of the Constitution, which gave special status to the erstwhile state.
Residents experienced a complete blackout from August 2019 to January 2020, after which 2G internet was allowed. The authorities restored 4G services after almost 18 months.
Surfshark on Tuesday noted that India, Russia and Iran stood out among other countries for their “high-profile internet censorship events” in 2022. In Jammu and Kashmir, all cases for internet restrictions were related to political turmoil, the Netherlands-based company said.
Globally, internet was suspended in 32 countries last year, accounting for a total of 112 cases.
Surfshark said that an estimated 4.2 billion people were subjected to internet censorship and Asian countries accounted for nearly half (47%) of these cases.
Gabriele Racaityte-Krasauske, a spokesperson of Surfshark, said that more than half of the world’s population faced internet blockades last year.
“Many of these cases involved full internet disruptions on a local or national level,” the spokesperson added. “These can be devastating and extremely dangerous, especially during wartime, protests, or violent government repressions. Internet restrictions can make it difficult or even impossible to mobilise people for the defense of democracy, contact loved ones, access news sites, and spread information to the outside world on what’s happening.”
However, internet disruption cases last year decreased by 40% compared to 2021, Surfshark said in its study.
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