Recently, UNESCO published a report on Internet Service in which India topped the list in Internet shutdown, an intentional disruption of the Internet service to control communication or online content or slowing down the access to the general public. The report was based on incidents reported between April 2017 and May 2018.
A few months later, there is another report on the Internet services in India which depicts a worse picture. This year alone, India has seen 95 internet shutdowns as against 79 such cases in the whole year of 2017, said SFLC, a legal services organisation.
The data shows that there has been a sudden increase in the Internet shutdowns in the country. Of 233 reported instances of suspension of Internet services in India in the last seven years, 73 per cent of these shutdowns happened only in the last year and a half.
For instance, J&K has already witnessed 36 internet shutdowns, while Rajasthan has had 26. Among other states, Uttar Pradesh has had seven instances this year from just two in 2017. Five instances of internet shutdowns have been reported from Maharashtra this year.
The report noted that businesses, educational institutions, hospitals, and even governments themselves have come to rely extensively on the internet over time, and without it, the day-to-day functioning of such entities are significantly crippled.
It added that internet shutdowns go against the human rights of citizens and should call for further questioning on their purpose in the interest of transparency.
Meanwhile, the court has also enquired about the matter. With the increasing cases of Internet shutdown in Rajasthan, the State High Court has directed the state government to respond within three weeks on the rising instances of shutdowns in a public interest litigation filed in court over internet unavailability.
The report is alarming for a country like India which lacks Internet connectivity on a large scale.
In a report ‘Inclusive Internet Index’ published by Facebook and Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), India ranked 47th out of 86 countries when it comes to inclusive Internet and connectivity for all. In Asia, the country ranked 12th out of 23 countries in terms of connectivity.
The Internet users in the country are expected to reach 500 million by June this year, according to Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Kantar IMRB.
The figure of 500 million might sound large, but it is far from covering the entire country, which has 1.3 billion population.
The development was first reported by Business Standard.