from the stifle-opposition-quash-free-speech-and-muzzle-expression dept.
The number of government-led internet shutdowns has exploded over the last decade as states seek to stifle dissent and protest by limiting citizens' access to the web.
Nearly 850 intentional shutdowns have been recorded over the past 10 years by nonprofit Access Now's Shutdown Tracker Optimization Project (STOP), and although the group acknowledges that data on incidents before 2016 is "patchy," some 768 of these shutdowns took place in the last five years. There were 213 shutdowns in 2019 alone, with this figure ticking down to 155 in 2020 as the world adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic (which delayed elections and led to lockdowns that kept populations at home more often). And already in the first five months of 2021 there have been 50 shutdowns across 21 countries.
"Since we began tracking government-initiated internet shutdowns, their use has proliferated at a truly alarming pace," Access Now's Felicia Anthonio, campaigner and #KeepItOn lead, said in a new report on the issue in The Current, a publication of Google's internet thinktank Jigsaw. "As governments across the globe learn this authoritarian tactic from each other, it has moved from the fringes to become a common method many authorities use to stifle opposition, quash free speech and muzzle expression."