IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


30th March, 2024 Polity


Disclaimer: Copyright infringement not intended.


  • For about five years India has topped the global list of countries imposing internet shutdown.

Magnitude of Internet Blackouts

  • India leads globally in internet shutdowns, experiencing 780 shutdowns between 2014 and 2023.
  • In 2023 alone, over 7,000 hours of internet disruptions were recorded.
  • Major events triggering shutdowns include the Citizenship Amendment Act protests, Article 370 abrogation, and Farm Bills protests.
  • Jammu and Kashmir witnessed 433 shutdowns in the past 12 years, while Manipur endured the longest shutdown from May to December 2023, sparking debates on international standards compliance.

Legislative Framework

  • Indian Telegraph Act: Empowers states to impose shutdowns during "public emergencies" or for "public safety," lacking precise definitions.
  • Section 69A of the IT Act: Forms the basis for online content censorship, resulting in over 55,000 website blocks.
  • Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act: Used to block URLs linked to banned organizations, as exemplified in The Caravan's case.

Triggers for Shutdowns

  • National Security and Public Order: Frequently cited reasons during protests and political unrest.
  • Political Turmoil: Shutdowns implemented to quell unrest amidst significant policy changes, like the introduction of Farm Bills.
  • Regional Conflicts: Ethnic clashes, such as those in Manipur, led to extended blackouts.
  • Information Control: Shutdowns employed to restrict information flow, especially during sensitive periods like in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Response to Protests: Shutdowns enacted in response to large-scale protests, such as those seen in Haryana during farmers' protests.

Consequences of Internet Shutdowns

  • Global Standards Compliance: Frequent shutdowns often fail to meet the 'three-part test' for legality, legitimacy, and proportionality under international law.
  • Economic Ramifications: India's shutdowns caused over 70% of global economic losses in 2020.
  • Legal and Rights Issues: Despite Supreme Court rulings highlighting violations of fundamental rights, transparency in shutdown orders remains inadequate.
  • International Standing: Frequent shutdowns contributed to India's declining global internet freedom ranking, from 59 points in 2016-2017 to 50 points in 2023.


Q. Assess the impact of internet shutdowns in India, examining their prevalence, legal framework, triggers, and consequences. Discuss the challenges they pose to fundamental rights and democracy, and suggest measures for ensuring transparency and compliance with international standards.