India imposed internet shutdowns 106 times in 2021 ahead of other countries for the fourth consecutive year, according to a report from digital rights advocacy group Access Now. 

‘The return of digital authoritarianism: internet shutdowns’ report said, “With a gradual return to normalcy following the outbreak of the global Covid-19 pandemic, we saw a dramatic resurgence of internet shutdowns in 2021.”

A total of 182 internet crackdowns were reported globally in 2021. Out of 106 shutdowns in India, 85 were reported in Jammu and Kashmir. India was one of among 18 countries that blocked mobile internet during protests, the report said. The number of countries that shut down the internet in 2021 has increased to 34 from 29 in 2020.

"Authorities in many countries imposed shutdowns in transparent efforts to silence critics and suppress dissent. Others wielded shutdowns to control the flow of information during elections and active conflict and war, including coups," the report said.

After India, Myanmar is ranked second for blocking the internet fifteen times in 2021, followed by Iran and Sudan with five such incidents each.

Raman Jit Singh Chima, Asia Pacific Policy Director at Access Now, said, “An internet shutdown is not a solution — it is a disproportionate, collective punishment that violates human rights and is unacceptable in a 21st-century society. The world’s largest democracy can only be preserved and strengthened with a commitment to facilitating access to the internet for all.”

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