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China justifies Modi's whopping 4,200 hrs internet shutdown: Economic loss $1.3 billion

By Rajiv Shah
India appears to be competing with terrorist-stricken north-central African nation, Chad, in the number of internet shutdowns. In 2019, says a recent report, released by the UK-based top10vpn.com, which provides services meant to protect online privacy, India experienced 4,196 hours of internet shutdown, next only to Chad, with 4,728 hours of internet shutdown.
In a review of top 21 countries which experienced internet shutdown last year, the report, titled “The Global Cost of Internet Shutdowns in 2019”, analyses major internet shutdowns across the world in 2019, even as revealing a growing trend of economic loss across. It says, globally the loss was to the tune of $8 billion as a result of internet shutdown.
Of the $8 million cost of internet shutdown across the globe, the report states, India suffered a loss of $1,329.8 million, next to Iraq, which experienced 263 hours of internet shutdown, but a whopping loss of $2,319.5 million, and Sudan, which saw 1,560 hours of internet shutdown, and $1,866.3 million loss.
Pointing out that internet shutdowns happened mainly in seven states, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Meghalaya, Rajasthan, Tripura and Uttar Pradesh, report regrets, “India imposes internet restrictions more often than any other country.”
Noting that these internet shutdowns “tend to be highly-targeted, even down to the level of blacking out individual city districts for a few hours while security forces try to restore order”, the report believes, “The full economic impact is therefore likely to be higher even than our $1.3 billion figure.”
According to the report, “The most significant disruptions have been in the turbulent Kashmir region, where after intermittent shutdowns in the first half of the year, access has been blocked since August, with no end to restrictions in sight.”
Quoting “The Washington Post” as stating that the Kashmir shutdown “is the longest ever imposed in a democracy”, the report says, “Indian authorities have attempted to justify the digital blackout on national security grounds due to unrest in Kashmir following their controversial decision to strip India’s only Muslim-majority region of its autonomy.”
Referring to the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests, the report says, “Elsewhere violent reactions in December to another change to Indian law, which has been viewed as another bid to marginalize the country’s Muslim minority, prompted internet blackouts across many districts of Uttar Pradesh, along with the nearby regions of Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Assam and Meghalaya.”
It continues, “The other major shutdown also had its root in religious tensions. A Supreme Court decision in November ruling on the dispute over the Ayodhya holy site that’s simmered between Hindus and Muslims for over a century prompted shutdowns ‘to avoid the spread of misinformation’ in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, and also in the Rajasthan region.” 

Support from China

Ironically, India’s massive internet shutdown has found support from China, a major world power without democratic rights. The English online edition of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee mouthpiece “People’s Daily”, referring to “shutdown of the internet in the states of Assam and Meghalaya to control protests over the controversial new Citizenship Amendment Bill”, insists, “It means that shutting down the internet in a state of emergency should be standard practice for sovereign countries.”
Interestingly, the commentary, titled “India's internet shutdown shows normal practice for sovereign countries”, does not mention of internet shutdown in Jammu and Kashmir, the longest ever not just in India but the world.
Pointing out that India is the world's “second-largest internet market with more than 650 million connected users”, with the states of “Assam and Meghalaya alone boasting 32 million netizens, the commentary says, “India did not hesitate to shut down the internet in these two states to cope when there is a significant threat to national security.” 
Internet shutdown in India has proved that the necessary regulation is a reasonable choice of sovereign countries based on national interests
The top daily compares it with what happened in China: “When China's Xinjiang region faced a similar national security threat a few years ago, the Chinese government responded with a similar strategy. However, it attracted sharp criticism from mainstream media in Europe and the US.”
It underlines, “The internet shutdown in India has once again proved that the necessary regulation of the internet is a reasonable choice of sovereign countries based on national interests, and a natural extension of national sovereignty in cyberspace.”
The daily believes, “India will not hesitate to shut down the internet if it is necessary to safeguard national security”, claiming, this common even in the US. “In the US, the birthplace of the internet, deleting content, shutting down accounts, and conducting extensive surveillance in response to national security concerns have become routine operations.”
The daily insists, “The internet cannot be independent of national sovereignty. It is a routine operation for governments all over the world to manage the internet based on national interests, including shutting down the internet in a state of emergency.”

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