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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:

  1. Internet shutdowns are becoming somewhat common

According to research by Netblocks, a non-profit tracking internet freedom, since 2019, at least 35 countries have restricted access to the Internet.

  1. Myanmar endured the world’s longest internet shutdown

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.

  1. Internet shutdowns are not just tools of authoritarian regimes

India, the world’s largest democracy, saw more than 400 internet lockdowns over the last four years.

  1. Internet shutdowns are usually legal

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.

  1. Global internet freedom is declining

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.

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Editorial Staff

Vision of Humanity
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Vision of Humanity

Vision of Humanity is brought to you by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), by staff in our global offices in Sydney, New York, The Hague, Harare and Mexico. Alongside maps and global indices, we present fresh perspectives on current affairs reflecting our editorial philosophy.