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Access Now publishes 2020 internet shutdowns report: Shattered dreams & lost opportunities — a year in the fight to #KeepItOn

Report highlights:

In 2020, Access Now and the #KeepItOn coalition documented at least 155 internet shutdowns in 29 countries...

Hundreds of millions were cut off in the COVID-19 pandemic, losing access to life-saving health information, education, and work opportunities.

India remained the country with the highest number of shutdowns. Beginning in 2019 and continuing into 2021, Myanmar imposed one of the world’s longest recorded shutdowns in Rakhine and Chin states.

An increasing number of shutdowns occurred this year in response to ongoing violence, particularly in active conflict zones.

Authoritarian regimes often shut the internet down to silence protests, sway elections, hide human rights violations, and bargain with other bad actors, with the aid of companies that provide censorship technologies.

When 2021 began with Uganda ordering internet shutdowns during a presidential election, Myanmar’s military using shutdowns in a coup attempt, and India leveraging blackouts to crush the nationwide Farmer’s Protests, the world was outraged, but we were not surprised. The stage had been set by authoritarian regimes that deliberately cut millions of people off from the internet in 2020, ignoring a global pandemic to serve their own ends and, in many cases, gain power. Our latest #KeepItOn report, Shattered dreams and lost opportunities: a year in the fight to #KeepItOn, compiles the data on 2020 shutdowns and documents the devastating impacts on people and communities. It reveals what happens when governments do not loosen their iron grip on the dreaded kill switch.

The people most hurt by shutdowns in 2020 were those already facing repression, silencing, and marginalization. They include Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and Bangladesh, Belarusians fighting for their democracy, and Ethiopians, Yemenis, and Kashmiris caught in the crossfire of communal violence and active armed conflict. Internet blackouts not only threaten people’s lives during COVID-19 and block protests and organizing, they also dismantle pathways for getting help. Many who were targeted by shutdowns in 2020 remain in danger today.

... The full report contextualizes internet shutdown data with additional research and analysis of important trends, such as crackdowns on tools for circumventing shutdowns and censorship.