India tops world in internet shutdowns

India topped the world with the highest number of internet shutdowns by government authorities with reportedly 121 instances to date in 2018, revealed data compiled by Delhi-based Software Freedom Law Centre’s ‘internet shutdown tracker’.

Taken with ‘Freedom on The Net 2018’, where India scored 43 — down two places from its score of 41 last year — the data shows how government controls have impacted freedom on the internet. India has slipped in the ‘partially free’ category. Higher the score, lesser the freedom on the Net. So, 0 is full freedom, and 100 is none.

In India, governments have shut down the internet purportedly to prevent riots, incidents of hate crime, even to prevent cheating in exams. Citing instances of shutdowns, the report states: “In Tamil Nadu, a video showing a child being kidnapped went viral on WhatsApp with a warning of child kidnappers on the prowl. The video is originally an announcement against child kidnapping from Pakistan,” it stated.

The report observed that while the Supreme Court judgment making privacy a fundamental right in August 2017 was a victory for internet freedom, it has been “plagued by security breaches”. The report cited researchers who exposed security lapses in Aaadhar, noting that Indian authorities are “poor custodians of citizen’s information”.

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