New Delhi: India suffered the longest internet shutdowns in 2020 for the second year running globally, bearing the biggest economic impact of $2.8 billion and 8,927 hours lost, affecting 10.3 million users in total, a new report from the UK-based privacy and security research firm Top10VPN has revealed.
As in previous years, India continued to restrict internet access more than any other country -- over 75 times in 2020.
"The majority of these short blackouts were highly-targeted, affecting groups of villages or individual city districts and so were not included in this report, which focuses on larger region-wide shutdowns. The true economic cost is therefore likely to be even higher than the $2.8 billion we have calculated," the researchers informed.
In Kashmir, authorities lifted restrictions in March 2020 after imposing in August 2019. "However, after the restrictions were lifted authorities continued to severely throttle internet speeds, with citizens only able to access 2G connections," it mentioned.
In India, internet blackouts lasted for 1,655 hours while bandwidth throttling resulted in 7,272 hours lost. "India and Myanmar were responsible for the longest shutdowns for the second year running, with restrictions originally imposed in 2019 continuing throughout 2020," the report mentioned.
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 per cent increase in the number of hours of restrictions in 2020, despite the global public health emergency".
Globally, the internet shutdowns cost the world economy, already devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic, a further $4 billion. This, however, represents a 50 per cent decrease in impact compared to $8.05 billion in 2019.
Nearly 268 million people were affected by major disruptions in 2020 globally, up three per cent year-on-year. According to the report, 93 major shutdowns took place in 21 countries in 2020 and the total duration of major disruptions around the world was 27,165 hours, up 49 per cent from the previous year.
Globally, internet blackouts resulted in 10,693 hours lost and internet throttling in 10,920 hours lost. Social media shutdowns resulted in 5,552 hours lost, the report said.