internet shutdowns

Internet shutdowns advance into 2023: #KeepItOn mid-year update

Authorities across the globe are persisting with their agendas of control and manipulation — with internet shutdowns their tool of choice. 

Last year, there were at least 187 shutdowns across 35 countries. Authorities are continuing these dangerous actions in 2023, and, as of May 19, Access Now and the #KeepItOn coalition have identified at least 80 shutdowns across 21 countries — 18 ongoing since 2022.

Launching today, Tuesday, June 6, at RightsCon Costa Rica, the world’s leading summit on human rights in the digital age, Access Now and the #KeepItOn coalition are unpacking the devastating internet shutdown trends in 2023 so far. Read Who is shutting down the internet in 2023? A mid-year update.

What we’re witnessing in 2023 — authorities shutting down the internet to expand their scope of censorship and control — is building on anti-democratic foundations established in countries across the globe in 2022 and the years before. We must stop this momentum in its tracks, and come together to put an end to internet shutdowns for good. Zach Rosson, #KeepItOn Data Analyst at Access Now

Key findings include:

  • It’s a global issue
    • The 80 shutdowns were implemented or ongoing across at least 21 countries:  Brazil, China, Cuba, Ethiopia, Guinea, India, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Mauritania, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Russia, Somaliland, Sudan, Suriname, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, and Ukraine* (imposed by Russia).
  • Worst offenders are doubling down
    • Russia is continuing to implement shutdowns during air strikes in Ukraine;
    • Ethiopia is expanding its shutdowns to further regions while Tigray remains largely in the dark;
    • Iran is continuing to hit the kill switch during protests; and
    • India is, once again, imposing the highest number of shutdowns — at least 33.
  • Internet shutdowns are undermining disaster response
    • Myanmar is continuing shutdowns in areas devastated by Cyclone Mocha, exacerbating damage and human toll; and
    • Turkey throttled Twitter after earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, impacting disaster response and aid delivery.
  • Internet shutdowns to catch fugitives or quell protests keep everyone in the dark
  • Democracies are seeking new censorship powers
    • Brazil blocked Telegram across multiple ISPs after the company allegedly failed to give police chat room information.
  • Some governments are keeping it on
    • Seven countries — Benin, Cuba, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Thailand, Turkey, and Turkmenistan — with shutdown histories have kept internet accessible during elections; and
    • Nigeria, who had previously shut down the internet during elections, kept it on during polls.
Internet shutdowns are an attack on human rights. They are always dangerous, unjustified, and morally despicable. From war zones to natural disasters, power mongers are continuing to disconnect millions — governments, companies, and civil society must intervene. Felicia Anthonio, #KeepItOn Campaign Manager at Access Now