India is no stranger to internet shutdowns. It has seen more than 400 internet shutdowns in the past four years. In fact, the country saw seven incidents of internet shutdowns in the past one month. Five of those were around farmers' protest sites in Haryana and Delhi. Jhajjar, Sonipat, and Palwal districts in Haryana have been at the receiving end of the recent internet shutdowns. Internet shutdowns around the farmers' protest sites elicited strong responses around the world. The US State Department said that it considers unhindered access to information, including the internet a hallmark of a thriving democracy.
Internet shutdowns also hurt the economy. A top10vpn report said that internet shutdowns that amounted to 8,927 hours cost India $2.7 billion in 2020. Considering the dollar rate of Rs 73.3, internet shutdowns cost India Rs 2 crore per hour.
Internet shutdown in Jammu and Kashmir -- for 233 days -- after Article 370 was abrogated, was the longest internet shutdown in the world. Jammu and Kashmir had no access to the internet from August 4, 2019 to March 4, 2020.
According to a report in Forbes, India shuts its internet more frequently than any other democracy in the world. Jammu and Kashmir saw the maximum internet outage within India, followed by Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Haryana, and Maharashtra. In many cases, the internet shutdowns continue for multiple days. In fact, 21 shutdowns in 2017, five in 2018 and six in 2019 lasted for more than three days.
A report by AccessNow said that countries like India that have provision to shut down internet in its laws tend to order more shutdowns. Some internet shutdowns were implemented to prevent unwanted events. In 2017, out of 79 shutdowns, 61 were preventive and 18 were reactive, while in 2018, 67 were preventive and 67 were reactive.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) allows temporary suspension of telecom services, including internet in an area. The suspension order can be issued by the Union Home Secretary or the State Home Secretary.
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