According to a Study, BJP-ruled States are more prone to Internet Shutdowns!
India is a pioneer in internet shutdown for many years! In the last 5 years, the number of cyber shutdowns carried out in India has taken India to the number one position on the world stage.
Although cyberbullying is considered a major threat to freedom of expression, many countries around the world are taking this step in the name of controlling protests, preventing riots and reducing tensions. In 2020 alone, the Indian government was in the first position on the Internet shutdowns at 109 times. In Yemen, the second largest country, the number of Internet outages in 2020 was just 6!
In India, the internet shutdown is seen as larger within Kashmir with 100 days, 200 days of disabled internet service, 18 months of high-speed internet service (4G) disabled, this view is normal as the Government of Jammu and Kashmir is operating as if it is the only place in the world where internet service is disabled for most days.
But the internet shutdown continues across India. The Tamil Nadu government has shut down internet services in Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts following the shooting death of 13 innocent people in a protest against the Sterlite plant in Thoothukudi in 2018. Internet shutdowns are going on not only in Tamil Nadu but all over India.
Chris Ruigrock, a political scientist and researcher at the University of Amsterdam who recently studied the ongoing internet shutdown in India, has published his research paper entitled “Understanding India’s Troubling Rise in Internet Shutdowns”.
The report cites the reasons behind India’s internet service outage:
- To suppress protests and prevent reports of human rights abuses in the crackdown.
- This internet service freeze is being used as a small tool around elections.
- To suppress politically claiming movements.
- During communal problems like caste and religion.
- The ‘accepted tool’ internet freeze is being used as a tool in the BJP-ruling states and as an accepted tool by some authorized officials.
Following are some of the news items mentioned in this report, which was further published by Research based on data related to India’s internet shutdown from 2012 to 2020;
- Jammu and Kashmir, which was declared a union territory last year till September 2020, has had 230 internet outages so far.
- Amid protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, shutdown happens a maximum of 87 districts across India in December 2019.
- The southern states of India rarely experience internet outages, but the freezing is most often performed in the northern and northeastern states of India.
- Next to Jammu and Kashmir, the northeastern states are most affected by the internet service outage.
- This internet shutdown in India is mostly aimed at mobile phone internet service. ((29% in 2015, 65% in 2016 and 2017, 94% in 2018 and 92% in 2019)) It is noteworthy that almost 97% of Indian Internet users use only the mobile network.
- Since the state government has the power to freeze internet service, severe repression against anti-CAA protesters has taken place in BJP-ruled states. Of the 19 internet service outages announced during anti-CAA protests, 14 were ordered in BJP-ruled states.
- At least 25 cyber shutdowns in India took place a month before, during and after the religious procession. The northeastern states are the most affected areas by such freezes. 19 out of 25 internet blockades were imposed by BJP-ruled states. However, these figures underestimate the number of actual internet freezes triggered by religious processions, as news reports do not cover all Internet freezes.
Comparison of districts (BJP ruling states vs other states) affected by average internet service outages per month in India:
- In non-BJP states, the number of districts affected by internet blockade per month is less than 20. The average number of affected districts is 2.7 per month.
- In contrast, 40 districts in BJP-ruled states have experienced internet shutdown in four months. The average number of affected districts is 9.6 per month. (3.5 times more than other states.)
- Whichever month it takes, the probability of internet blockage in a BJP-ruled district is 3%, while in a non-BJP-ruled state it is 0.8%.
The reason why this communication is given by the internet, which is not caused by news televisions and newspapers, is seen all over the world as an important political tool, is that there is an opportunity for people to express their situation, shortcomings and dissatisfaction with the state. However, the growing number of internet outages in India over the past few years has kept India at the top.