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Economic loss of Jan 26 internet shutdown in Delhi, Haryana 'overtakes' J&K blackout

Counterview Desk

The internet shutdown in Delhi and Haryana on February 26 following the farmers' unrest in the national capital and thereafter has overtaken the internet blackout in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), says a report. Even as pointing out that the internet blackouts and social media restrictions cost the world’s economy more than $4.5 billion in 2020, and of this $2.5 billion of this (almost 60 percent) comes from over 100 shutdowns in India (mainly within the J&K), a UK research organisation, states that there was a sudden spurt in and around Delhi-Haryana on the Republic Day and thereafter.
A report by Paul Bischoff, an expert with Comparitech, which claims to cover a wide range of online services including VPNs, password managers, ID theft protection, antivirus, internet providers, network monitoring, and more, says that “following a farmers’ protest in Delhi, the internet was shut from 12:00 to 23:59 on January 26 in several areas in the ‘interest of public safety’ after things turned violent.”
It adds, “Adjoining region, Haryana, also ordered a 24-hour shutdown in three areas, lasting until 17:00 on January 27. This was then extended to 17:00 on February 1, meaning a shutdown of 144 hours in total.”

Excerpts:

According to research conducted by our team at Comparitech, internet blackouts and social media restrictions cost the world’s economy more than $4.5 billion in 2020. $2.5 billion of this (almost 60 percent) comes from over 100 shutdowns in India (mainly within the Jammu and Kashmir region).
Implemented by governments to restrict communications and information during voting, school exams, outbreaks of militant fighting, and protests, these shutdowns have a huge impact on local and worldwide economies as well as citizens’ rights and freedom of speech.
What’s more, we’ve already seen some high-profile shutdowns in 2021. This includes Uganda’s day of social media restrictions followed by a 5-day internet shutdown amid elections, costing approximately $10.7 million. Then Russia’s 6-hour internet throttling was reported at 83 percent connectivity after warnings from the Russian Prosecutor’s Office said internet traffic would be monitored to “restrict access to illegal information,” amid mass protests. Plus, there’s the continued internet throttling in India’s Jammu and Kashmir region. That’s why we’ll be tracking internet shutdowns on a weekly basis to see how they develop throughout 2021.

Internet shutdowns – 2021

The ongoing internet shutdowns and social media disruptions around the world, to date, have cost over $206 million. Following a farmers’ protest in Delhi, the internet was shut from 12:00 to 23:59 on January 26 in several areas in the “interest of public safety” after things turned violent. Adjoining region, Haryana, also ordered a 24-hour shutdown in three areas, lasting until 17:00 on January 27. This was then extended to 17:00 on February 1, meaning a shutdown of 144 hours in total.
Internet blackout/shutdown
On February 1, internet connectivity dropped in Myanmar following an apparent military coup. Connectivity dropped to 75% from 3:00 to 8:00, falling to 50% from 8:00 to 12:00, before being restored back to 75% with the incident ongoing. So far, this has cost over $3 million.
As Russia’s connectivity only dropped to 83 percent, the shutdown has been calculated at 17 percent. Myanmar’s costs were calculated based on the number of hours at 75% (cost of 25%) and 50% (cost of 50%) connectivity.

Internet shutdowns cost the world’s economy $4.5 billion in 2020

As we have already mentioned, India suffered the most shutdowns in 2020, with the region of Jammu and Kashmir accounting for the vast majority of these restrictions. However, this could be due to the government there readily publishing shutdown orders, with many of the other regions criticized for not doing so. These shutdowns were primarily due to encounters between security forces and terrorists. Others were instigated due to elections and protests. Throughout 2020, these shutdowns across India caused over 13,000 hours of downtime and cost the economy over $2.5 billion.
When it comes to the longest periods without internet and/or social networks, however, African countries were the hardest hit. Chad had the longest shutdown with WhatsApp being blocked for 3,912 hours at a total cost of more than $26 million. Running from July 22 and ongoing at the end of the year, this shutdown was implemented due to the spread of “hatred and division.”
This was followed by Tanzania with an internet blackout that lasted 1,584 hours in 2020 at the cost of over $622 million. It started when elections were due to take place but continued long after, with no updates of it having been fully restored by the end of 2020. In fact, the Netherlands ambassador in Tanzania, Verheul Jeroen, even Tweeted “Why is access to Twitter still blocked in #Tanzania? Did somebody forget to switch it back on?” on 13 December.
Ethiopia also suffered three lengthy internet blackouts that lasted a combined total of 3,657 hours and cost over $109 million. The first ran from January to the beginning of April in Western Oromia and cost over $1.4 million. Reasons weren’t provided straight away but “security reasons” were cited in February. 
Time and cost of internet shutdowns by platform in the world -- 2020
Then, in June, the internet was cut off across the entire country for 23 days following the shooting of prominent singer, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa. This cost $102.5 million. The third occurred in November in the region of Tigray after war broke out in the area. It lasted until mid-December when some services were restored and resulted in downtime of 960 hours at a cost of $5.48 million.
In Vietnam, Facebook’s (and consequently, Instagram’s) servers were taken offline 50 days after Facebook refused to censor posts. This had a combined economic cost of $358.3 million.

Shutdowns by platform – 2020

Shut down or throttled for almost 28,400 hours in total, the web was the most heavily-impacted platform in 2020. Plus, with the web generating the highest revenues, these shutdowns resulted in a cost to the economy of nearly $4 billion and affected over 450 million internet users.
The web was closely followed by WhatsApp – the favored communication app for many thanks to its encrypted messages. Forcibly shut down by governments to prevent communications during elections, examinations, protests, outbreaks of fighting, and due to “the mispread of information,” access to WhatsApp was restricted for a total of 4,602 hours in 2020 and cost $55.6 million.
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram also suffered huge losses – $255 million, $222 million, and $43 million each respectively due to shutdowns lasting for thousands of hours. In some cases, all three platforms are hit with the same restrictions at the same time. For example, in Mali, these three channels, along with WhatsApp, were restricted for 144 hours due to mass protests. This single shutdown cost the economy over $5.87 million.

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