Access Now, an organization working for digital rights, says that India has been at the top of the list of countries for shutting down internet services for the fifth year in a row. India to shut down world’s largest internet service in 2022
According to the British news agency Reuters, the New York-based digital rights organization said in a report published on Tuesday that out of 187 internet shutdowns recorded globally by Access Now, 84 were recorded in India.
49 of these shutdowns were recorded in Indian-administered Kashmir.
The watchdog’s report said authorities had disrupted internet service 49 times in Kashmir due to political instability and violence. In January and February 2022, three days of shutdown were ordered 16 times in a row.
Kashmir has been a source of conflict between India and Pakistan for a long time. In August 2019, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi abolished the autonomy of the Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir and split it into two federally administrated territories.
Since then, the government has imposed communications restrictions in the region for security reasons, which digital rights groups have condemned and described as ‘measures to suppress dissent’.
Militants have been fighting Indian rule in Kashmir for more than three decades. India accuses Pakistan of fomenting the rebellion, a claim Islamabad denies.
According to the watchdog, although India once again topped the list of countries with internet shutdowns, it was the first time since 2017 that 2022 saw fewer than 100 shutdowns in the country.
Ukraine is second on the list where the Russian military has blocked internet access 22 times since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 last year.
“During Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine, the Russian military shut down Internet service at least 22 times, engaged in cyber attacks and deliberately destroyed telecommunications infrastructure,” the watchdog said in its report.
Ukraine was followed on the list by Iran, where authorities disrupted internet access 18 times in 2022 in response to anti-government protests.