2023 littered with incidents of internet censorship

Governments across the globe continue to use internet censorship to address internet-related challenges.

Internet access and technology on mobile

Top10VPN, an internet privacy and security research and consultancy agency, revealed in its latest report that governments worldwide chose internet shutdowns as their modus operandi to address identified security issues. According to the report, 25 governments issued 196 instances of major internet outages for a duration of 79 238 hours, with social media platforms being the target of almost two-thirds of those cases. X placed first among platforms that faced censorship, with Instagram and TikTok coming in for a close second and a close third, respectively. 

It is estimated that these shutdowns will likely cost economies over 1 billion dollars, a decrease of 67% from the previous year but an increase of 45% from the 2021 figure.

Incidents of country shutdowns occurred in differing ways and for different reasons. Iraq, for example, had the largest number of shutdowns (66 times), while Manipur, an Indian state, had the most extended episode (5,000 hours). Governments claim conflict, exams, military coups, protests, information control, and election interference are reasons for the imposed censorship. Europe, where all shutdowns were conflict-related, incurred the highest cost, $4.02 billion, followed by Sub-Saharan Africa with a $1.74 billion price tag. North America registered the lowest cost with $0.001 billion. 

Why does it matter?

During the year, 174 million persons were deemed to have been affected by the 2023 internet shutdowns. Such deliberate internet censorship has been equated with the infringement of citizens’ digital rights and economic self-harm.