Worldwide Internet Outage

The non-profit organization Access Now has published a report on internet shutdowns (internet outages) by governments of different countries. 

In 2019, the organization’s experts counted 213 cases of internet outages around the world. In 2020, against the background of the pandemic, the indicator decreased to 155 cases. From January to May 2021, 50 internet outages were recorded in 21 countries around the world.

Today we’ll take a closer look at the world statistics of internet outages.

Previously, we’ve written about world stats on internet access and freedom. You can read more here.

What has changed?

Although the number of shutdowns per year has decreased somewhat since 2019, the analysis shows that the authorities will turn off the internet more and more freely. Over the past 10 years, there have been about 850 cases of internet disconnection by government decisions worldwide. 768 incidents occurred in the last five years, while the first five-year period accounted for less than a hundred cases.

How is internet changed

According to researchers, 2021 began with authoritarian regimes using network outages to suppress protests and dissent. These efforts to censor and manipulate people during elections and seize power as part of an attempted coup have put people’s lives at risk during a global pandemic.

How do authorities control internet in Zimbabwe? Read more here.

Several outages in 2021 occurred in connection with the elections. Among them was the network’s shutdown for four days by the Ugandan authorities during the general elections. In Niger, the government responded to the protests after the elections on February 21 by disabling internet access for 10 days without any official explanation from either the authorities or internet providers.

Internet disconnection usually occurs in countries with unstable political situations. Disconnection of communications during mass protests is often accompanied by violence from law enforcement agencies and the authorities. Internet shutdowns are becoming one of the most effective ways to control the dissemination of information, according to an analysis of the resilience of regions to shutdowns prepared by the Internet Protection Society.

You can learn about internet blocking in Turkmenistan here.

How do internet outages threaten society?

Governments of different countries are tightening control over information, blocking platforms that do not follow their orders, for example with Twitter in some countries.

Iran, Cuba, Kazakhstan, Myanmar, and many other countries completely cut off communication during protests.

Shutdowns threaten society

“Governments use network failures as a tool not only to prevent and divide the protest itself but also to conceal human rights violations that are usually associated with protests, especially in countries with authoritarian regimes or weak democracies,” Access Now experts say.

In addition to the economic component, during the pandemic an internet shutdown closes access to the digital space for people with disabilities, blocking their participation in everything from online education platforms to digital banking.

It also blocks people’s access to important information on public health and the means of maintaining daily life — for example, social networks, news and banking transactions, logistics systems, and taxis.

We all have the right to use the internet freely! Read about internet freedom rights here.


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