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Internet shutdowns last year has cost India $2.8 billion, according to estimates by Top10VPN, a digital privacy research group.
Top10VPN estimated that more than 1,600 hours of Internet blackouts and 7,000 hours of bandwidth throttling has cost the country about $2.8 billion, accounting to 70% of the total loss of $4 bn to the world economy.
Restrictions in Kashmir, the longest internet shutdown in a democracy, have hurt businesses, schools and the distribution of medicine.
“The limiting of networks to 2G has made it impossible for online classes to function adequately," Human Rights Watch noted.
This caused willful harm to the careers of the students and teachers, violated the rights to education, it said.
However, Indian authorities said that the restrictions were “in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India.”
They lifted the restrictions in March 2020, seven months after imposing it on the state.
Authorities continued to throttle internet speeds to 2G levels even after lifting restrictions.
Top10VPN estimates the true economic cost would be even higher as a major part of the blackouts in the villages and city districts were not included in the report.
It focussed on larger region-wide shutdowns.
Top10VPN defined internet shutdown as an intentional disruption of internet or electronic communications for a specific population or location, to exert control over the flow of information.
It can be caused by Internet blackouts where access to the internet is completely cut off, social media shutdowns where access to popular social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp are blocked, and throttling where access to the internet is reduced to 2G speeds.