(The Hill) — New research has found that a record number of countries shut down the internet in 2022 for longer periods of time.
Research conducted by Access Now found that governments and other actors shut down the internet at least 187 times across 35 different countries, the highest number of countries the organization has recorded. India shut down the internet at the highest rate in 2022 with the recorded number of 84 shutdowns, marking the fifth consecutive year it ranked in that spot.
“Not only are shutdowns resurging after a decrease at the height of the pandemic, they’re lasting longer, targeting specific populations, and are being wielded when people need a connection the most — including during humanitarian crises, mass protests, and active conflict and war,” according to the group’s report, released Tuesday.
The country that had the second-highest number of shutdowns was Ukraine, due to the Russian military cutting the country’s internet access 22 times over the course of the war there.
The internet shutdowns were triggered by protests, active conflicts, exams and elections across the countries. There were 62 shutdowns in 16 countries during protests, 33 shutdowns due to active conflicts, eight shutdowns in six countries “to prevent exam cheating” and five shutdowns in five countries connected to elections.
The report also noted that 48 shutdowns in 14 countries occurred with documented human rights abuses, including active conflict zones of Ukraine and Yemen. The research said that 133 of the total 187 shutdowns occurred with some form of violence, saying that violence associated with shutdowns is “on the rise.”
Internet shutdowns are also becoming longer. The research found that 16 of the shutdowns in 2022 were carried over from 2021. At the start of 2023, at least 12 shutdowns had lasted about a year.
Access Now uses numerous databases to update its Shutdown Tracker Optimization Project to track internet shutdowns across the world. It has data on shutdowns from 2016 to 2022.