Fearing social unrest and the loss of control over their populations, the governments that preside over nearly 2.8 billion people around the world have the power to swing Internet access at the whim of kings, military juntas or presidents at life.
These blackouts wreak havoc on businesses that depend on connection to the outside world, and they are often implemented to hamper the work of journalists and activists or to prevent protesters from coordinated action via media apps. social. A surprisingly high number shut down the internet during college exams to curb cheating.
These shutdowns can also occur regionally in a country, from drought-stricken southwestern Iran to rebel-infused northern Ethiopia. (Ethiopia is part of the poorest countries in the world.)
To determine the countries where the government has shut down the internet, 24/7 Wall St. looked at data on internet shutdowns from the non-profit organization Access Now. The Return of Digital Authoritarianism, Internet Shutdowns in 2021. Countries were ranked by the number of government-enforced internet shutdowns reported in 2021. In the event of a tie, the most populous country was ranked highest. All other data are from the World Bank.
Of the 19 countries with at least two government-enforced internet shutdowns last year, six are in Africa, five in the Middle East and seven in Asia. Cuba, where mobile internet only reached its people in December 2018, is the only country in the Americas on this list.
Most of the people living under these swinging stick internet room monitors live in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Indonesia. The share of Internet users in these 19 countries varies from 10.4% in the Republic of Chad to 85.9% in Kazakhstan. Most of these people access the web only through their mobile devices. Iraq has the highest number of fixed broadband connections at 15.5 per 100 people, while a dozen of these countries have only two or fewer broadband subscriptions per 100 people.
The list excludes North Korea, where only a small number of people have access to a closed and sanctioned circuit intranet network via dial-up connections. Owning a computer there requires government permission and registration, and few people would be able to get one even if they knew what it was. This list also excludes authoritarian countries like China and Saudi Arabia, as these countries use internet firewalls.
Also noticeably absent from the list is Russia, which blocked access to communication platforms in 2021 by throttling. Authorities passed new laws in 2022 banning digital and media platforms and tools such as VPNs. Ally Belarus took steps in 2021 to institutionalize its power to block internet access at its discretion. (What is the freedom of the press in the richest countries of the world.)
Click here to see the countries where the government has shut down the internet
Click here to read our detailed methodology