What is an internet “kill” switch?
An internet “kill” switch is something a government can use to shut down the internet, site, online services (like texting apps and social media) and more.
And…it is being used more and more as the global number of internet shutdowns has been rising again for the second year in a row. The number of internet shutdowns in 2022 at 187. Just under half – 84 – happened in India.
Many government use internet shutdowns in connection with curbing protests and dissent and the pandemic likely caused fewer of these events to happen as stay-at-home orders were issued and limits on gatherings were imposed.
The highest number of internet shutdowns since reporting started in 2016 was reached in 2019 at 213. The same year also saw the highest figure of internet shutdowns in India – 121. Despite the country consistently registering the most internet shutdowns since the inception of the survey, 2022 saw India’s share in total global internet shutdowns decrease to the lowest point in years. Simultaneously, the total number of countries which employ internet shutdowns has risen, surpassing the 2019 number again as of 2021.
Shutdowns in India clustered in Kashmir in 2022, but also in Rajasthan, where they have been used during protests (and preemptively when protests were expected), but also during exams in recent months. Both regions have seen violence often tied to tension between Hindus and Muslims, in Kashmir also in connection with the Muslim-led independence movement.