NEW DELHI — Surfshark’s internet censorship yearly recap shows that 4.2 billion people were affected by internet censorship in 2022 globally, while Asia accounts for nearly half (47%) of all new cases in 2022. The Jammu and Kashmir region took the lead by case count, with 24 recorded internet disruptions. 10 additional cases were recorded across the rest of India.
“Internet censorship remains a common technique used by autocratic governments to isolate their citizens from the outside world,” a press statement issued by Surfshark said.
Surfshark spokeswoman Gabriele Racaityte-Krasauske added, “More than half of the world’s population was affected by internet censorship last year. Many of these cases involved full internet disruptions on a local or national level. These can be devastating and extremely dangerous, especially during wartime, protests, or violent government repressions. Internet restrictions can make it difficult or even impossible to mobilize people for the defense of democracy, contact loved ones, access news sites, and spread information to the outside world on what’s happening.”
“Through the past year, we’ve seen how governments have used internet shutdowns and telecommunications blackouts as a tool of repression and control, silencing journalists, civil society, and the general public. Internet connectivity today underpins all human rights, which is why it’s more critical than ever to document mass-censorship incidents and find ways to get people reconnected,” Alp Toker, Director, NetBlocks, opines.
Asia continues to lead by internet disruption count
11 Asian countries imposed new internet disruptions in 2022, bringing a total of 58 cases. The Jammu and Kashmir region has the highest disruption count in the world (24), followed by Iran (11) and the rest of India (10).
Africa follows Asia as the second most disruption-intensive region, with 5 countries imposing 13 restrictions. Sudan takes the lead in Africa by disruption count (4), followed by Burkina Faso (3) and Zimbabwe (3).
Here are a few of the most worrisome internet censorship events in Asia in 2022:
- June – India disrupts internet access amid military recruitment protests.
- September – Mass-scale internet disruptions in Iran in the wake of Mahsa Amini’s death.
- Jammu and Kashmir region accounted for 24 new disruption cases in 2022 – more cases than any country in the world.
Burkina Faso, Russia, and Azerbaijan had the longest internet disruptions last year
- Burkina Faso restricted Facebook in January. The restriction continued into 2023.
- Russia’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram disruptions following the invasion of Ukraine are still ongoing. The country has also blocked access to major international news sites.
- Azerbaijan restricted TikTok in September. The platform remains restricted to this day.
Of all social media platforms, Facebook is the most hated by autocratic governments and remains highly censored in 2022. In fact, since 2015, a staggering 46% of the global population has, in some way or another, been affected by government-imposed Facebook restrictions.
The Internet Censorship Tracker was developed by Surfshark in partnership with internet watchdog NetBlocks. The research tracks partial and complete internet and social media shutdowns in 196 countries and territories from 2015 onwards.
Here are the key takeaways:
⊝ Asia accounts for nearly half (47%) of all new cases in 2022, which is more than any other continent.
⊝ The Jammu & Kashmir region had the highest number of restrictions (24) – this is more than any country in the world.
⊝ The main causes of internet censorship in 2022 were protests and political turmoil.
⊝ Facebook was the most-restricted social media platform in 2022.