India suffered the biggest economic impact in the year 2020, due to Internet shutdowns. The country bore a loss of $2.8 billion due to internet shutdowns for 8,927 hours, affecting 10.3 million users in total, according to The Global Cost of Internet Shutdowns report released by Top10VPN.
The internet blackouts lasted for 1,655 hours, and the bandwidth throttle resulted in the loss of 7,272 hours.
It is at the top of 21 countries that prohibited web access to its citizens in 2020. The economic impact was double on account of Internet shutdowns in 2019, and the combined cost for the rest of the 20 countries on the list.
The researchers calculated more than 27,000 hours of internet shutdowns worldwide in 2020 that have cost the global economy $4.01B. It is a 50 per cent decrease in impact compared to $8.05 billion in 2019.In 2019, India was the third in 21 countries, after Iraq and Sudan, suffering a loss of nearly ₹140 crores and 4,196 hours, and affected 8.4 million users.
"The majority of these short blackouts were highly-targeted, affecting groups of villages or individual city districts and so were not included in this report, which focuses on larger region-wide shutdowns. The true economic cost is therefore likely to be even higher than the $2.8 billion we have calculated," the report read.
The report included social media shutdowns, internet blackouts and severe throttling in the calculations. India restricted internet access more than any other country, more than 75 times last year, the reported read.
In Kashmir alone, the authorities lifted restrictions in March 2020 after August 2019. However, the network issue and the speed continued to remain an obstacle, as the Union Territory could only access 2G connections. The report states that the restrictions severely affected the distribution of medicine, businesses and schools.
The region not only experienced complete internet shutdown for months but blackouts as well as severe throttling.
According to the Human Rights Watch report, the limiting of networks to 2G in Kashmir also impacted the functioning of online classes. "Various students and teachers were unable to attend conferences or have their papers published, causing willful harm to their careers and violating the right to education," it read.
The report did not include China and North Korea, countries known to limit Internet access because the report is based on publicly available open-source information and documented internet and social media shutdowns.