The Myanmar coup last week saw an internet shutdown as a sign of averting the protest. A similar incident took place during a protest here in Kashmir during the abolition of article 370. These frequent decisions of shutting down the internet have got the digital privacy rights group’s attention of late. They say that the government uses them to silence the voice of the opposition.
Internet Shutdown a Major Tool in Tackling Outrages
According to a report by Top10VPN, a digital privacy firm based in the UK, last year almost 21 countries participated in internet shut down almost 93 times. The founder of another internet and digital media monitoring network, Netblocks, Alp Toker said, “Internet shutdowns have been massively underreported or misreported over the years”. Last week Myanmar coup protest led to an internet shutdown, a recent election outrage in Uganda caused social media blockage, the abolition of article 370 in Kashmir gave rise to a similar situation and many other such instances occurred where the Govt shut the internet for preventing outrage in the social platforms.
The Effect of Internet Cut Down
While a majority of the countries take the decision of cutting internet access to tackle the protesting situation, its effect on the common public seems to be on the negative side. The internet cut has economic, political, and humanitarian costs. During the lockdown period, schools and colleges are being operated through online classes and internet shutdown can hamper that! Apart from that, it takes away the democratic rights of people to have free speech. Though the circulation of fake news and global outrage over it can be controlled through the internet cut down, the negative effect of the move is heavier.
Is the Government on the Right Track?
The government holds the right to take a decision by shutting the internet for a longer time period but it raises other crucial concerns apart from controlling the protestors. Today, almost 90% of industries and individuals depend on digital media for their personal and professional work, and thus shutting down the internet is not at all a welcoming move by the governments. And mostly during the lockdown where education, work, and every other thing is being carried out from home, cutting the internet connection is purely a thumbs-down decision by governments across the world.
The Policy Times policy suggestions
- Rather than shutting down the internet, the government must make use of the social platforms to interact with the protestors to bring out feasible solutions.
- The digital rights group must also have some policies that would not allow the government to further shut off the internet without their prior consent.
- The internet shutdown puts a question mark on how safe the data over the internet is! If the government can control the usage of the internet, having a grip over personal data is not an ‘out of the blue’ option for them.