The recent military coup in Myanmar was followed by major intermittent internet shutdowns and the complete blocking of social media sites such as Facebook. It’s not the first the time internet access has been cut in Myanmar recently. In June 2020, internet freedom declined dramatically in the lead up to the general election in November, with an estimated one million people taken offline.
Internet disruptions are more prevalent in the world than you might think. Here are five facts about internet shutdowns around the world:
Just as internet access is blocked following the military coup, it was regained in an ethnic conflict zone of the country. The northern states of Rakhine and Chin suffered 19 months of internet blackout, which ended in early February 2021.
India, the world’s largest democracy, saw more than 400 internet lockdowns over the last four years.
Most of the time internet shutdowns can be considered within the law as governments cite public safety, hate speech and fake news concerns to justify blocking access.
Levels of freedom on the net has been dropping for the last ten years. According to the latest Freedom on the Net report, scores worsened for 26 countries compared to 22 countries whose scores improved. Myanmar and Kygyzstan showed the largest declines.