In a recent report by Surf shark, a Lithuania-based virtual private network company, has revealed that Pakistan has implemented three of the 42 new internet shutdowns worldwide. These restrictions were introduced following the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan on May 9, as reported by the Internet Shutdown Tracker during a comprehensive six-monthly analysis.
For the past period, access to popular social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube has been restricted in the country. In addition, the country experienced intermittent disruptions in its mobile network for a few days after this restriction.
According to Surfshark’s research, Pakistan ranks third on the list of countries leading the list of regimes that imposed internet restrictions in the first half of 2023. Iran and India occupy the first two places on the list. With Asia being the epicenter of most internet outages.
Iran was the country with the most internet outages during this period, with a total of 14 incidents, all of which took place in Zahedan during Friday’s protests against the massacre that took place in Zahedan.
India came in second, behind only Iran, with at least 9 occurrences; the vast majority of them took place during protests and rallies.
It is interesting to note that the report refers to two different closures of internet services in the region known as “Jammu and Kashmir”, both of which were apparently ordered by the Indian government. If these incidents are included in India’s total, the country has seen 11 cases of internet outages in the past six months.
More than two-thirds of the latest disruptions, bringing the total number of incidents to 30, were caused by public anger over social and political issues. This poll also sheds light on the fact that in times of civil unrest, the Internet is the main arena for the dissemination of relevant information.
Surfshark’s Internet Censorship Tracker examines information from mainstream media and digital rights organizations such as Netblocks and Access Now, as well as data collected from social media companies, to identify instances of internet censorship.
Most restricted apps in 2023
During the first half of the year 2023, Facebook continued to be subject to severe restrictions. The app was not available to users in the countries where governments are known to enforce various forms of online censorship in the past.
Telegram, Instagram and YouTube are subject to restrictions in four different countries, placing them joint second on the list of social sites most frequently banned. It was a tight race between WhatsApp and Twitter for third place on the list, and both services are subject to censorship in three countries.
During the first six months of the year, TikTok was blocked in only one country: Ethiopia. According to the research, the United States of America is fast on track to become the eighth country to ban the use of this platform.
According to the study’s findings, the first half of 2023 saw a 31% drop in the number of new internet outage cases compared to the same period in 2022. However, the number of different countries that have implemented similar restrictions has increased from 13 to 14.
As a whole, Asia was the region most affected by internet outages, accounting for 71 percent of all new cases worldwide. According to Surfshark’s findings, an estimated 2.35 billion people were subject to internet restrictions during the year.
According to the report, the decrease in global restrictions is mainly due to a decrease in the number of cases in Jammu and Kashmir, from 35 in the first half of 2022 to just 2 in the same period in 2023.
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