Facts and Quotes About Internet Shutdowns


  • South Asia led the world in internet shutdowns in 2016. (IFJ)
  • India shut down the internet 31 times in 2016 – the highest in the world. India has ordered 73 internet shutdowns since 2012. (Software Freedom Law Center)
  • Most internet shutdowns in India are ordered under article 144 of the Indian Penal Code, which empowers local authorities to issue prohibitory orders to deal with situations of potential unrest. (Software Freedom Law Center)
  • Bangladesh on several occasions has cut off internet for hours by ‘mistake’; and has shut down messaging services for weeks for security reasons surrounding war crimes trials since 2015. (IFJ)
  • Pakistan shut down internet and/or mobile services 12 times in 2016 and 50 times since 2012. (Bytes for All)
  • South Asia incurred economic losses amounting to US$ 1.1 billion due to internet shutdowns. (Brookings Institutions)
  • India lost US$ 968 million economically due to internet shutdowns. Bangladesh and Pakistan each lost US$ 69 million economically due to internet shutdowns. (Brookings Institutions)
  • In Pakistan, sometimes the trigger for internet shutdowns was a terrorist attack or riot. Other times, they were imposed as pre-emptive measures to religious festivals or political rallies. (IFJ)
  • Since 2015, the Pakistani government has shut down mobile services for all the major
    public holidays as a precautionary measure. (IFJ)
  • Nepal totally shut down internet and telecommunications for weeks in 2005 when the democratically elected government was deposed; it went hand in hand with tight media censorship. (CMR Nepal)


  • Internet shutdowns are generally justified on “national security” grounds, but there can be no doubt that many of the closures have been driven by political or other considerations, and many have been imposed with no clear legal mandate. (IFJ)
  • Media need access online and offline at all times (IFJ)
  • Every journalist is a monitor on internet shutdowns (IFJ)
  • Freedom of expression is the casualty when internet shutdowns happen (IFJ)
  • All journalists need to report the big story behind internet shutdowns (IFJ)
  • Shutting down the Internet undermines economic activity and chills free expression. (Global Network Initiative)
  • Internet shutdowns have adverse effects on free speech, expression, ability to assemble and associate. (Digital Empowerment Foundation)
  • All incidents of internet shutdown, and ban on mobile services completely violate an individual’s freedom of expression, right to access online and freedom of assembly and association online. (Digital Empowerment Foundation)
  • The internet and telecommunications bans have the character of collective punishment and fail to meet the standards required under international human rights law to limit freedom of expression. (David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression)
  • Internet shutdowns are likely to adversely impact freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and a range of other economic and social rights. (Institute for Human Rights and Business)
  • Internet shutdowns are a fundamental risk, not just to freedom of expression, national or personal security or business operations, but also to the most fundamental of sustainable development challenges faced by all states. (Institute for Human Rights and Business)