J-K witnesses dramatic 18x drop in internet shutdowns, setting a global trend in 2023

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Aasif Ganaie
Aasif Ganaiehttp://www.aasifwrites.in
Aasif, a versatile professional, spearheads journalistic endeavours at The Kashmir Pulse as its Editor. With a foundation in web development and expertise in SEO, he brings a unique blend of technical prowess and editorial acumen to the newsroom.

SRINAGAR — In a surprising turn of events, the first half of 2023 saw a significant decline in internet restrictions in Jammu & Kashmir, with only two recorded cases. According to a comprehensive analysis by Surfshark’s Internet Shutdown Tracker, this drop marks an 18-fold decrease compared to the same period in 2022 when the region witnessed 35 cases of internet shutdowns.

Kashmir Valley, which has been notorious for its frequent internet restrictions, appears to be making strides towards greater internet freedom. Of the 42 new internet disruptions reported globally during the first half of 2023, Jammu & Kashmir accounted for just two. Iran took the lead with 14 new restrictions, followed closely by India with nine, and Pakistan with three. The Asian region collectively contributed to a staggering 71% of all new restrictions, underscoring the ongoing challenges faced by the continent.

As a privacy protection company, Surfshark in its role as an advocate for unrestricted internet access hailed this decline in Jammu & Kashmir’s cases as a positive step towards greater freedom of expression and information flow. Gabriele Racaityte-Krasauske, a spokesperson for Surfshark, stressed that while the drop is encouraging, it remains uncertain if this trend will be sustained, given the region’s heightened ‘political tensions’.

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This significant reduction in internet shutdowns in Jammu & Kashmir played a crucial role in a 31% global decrease in restrictions during the first half of 2023 when compared to the same period in 2022. However, when excluding Jammu & Kashmir from the analysis, the global scenario revealed a worrisome 54% increase in internet restrictions, rising from 26 cases to 40 over the same period.

Iran, India, and Pakistan emerged as the top three countries with new internet restrictions in 2023. Iran’s 14 new cases occurred during the Zahedan Friday protests, which erupted in response to the Zahedan massacre. India witnessed most of its nine restrictions during various protest events, while Pakistan encountered three restrictions following the arrest of former prime minister Imran Khan.

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Surfshark’s analysis further unveiled that more than two-thirds of government-imposed internet restrictions worldwide in the first half of 2023 (30 cases) were triggered by public demonstrations. This highlights the internet’s pivotal role as a battleground for vital information during times of civil unrest.

Gabriele Racaityte-Krasauske, the Surfshark spokesperson, commented on the significance of the internet during times of political turmoil, stating that restrictions on internet access pose a grave threat to democracy and human rights.

As Jammu & Kashmir sets a positive precedent with its decline in internet shutdowns, advocates of unrestricted internet urge continued vigilance and advocacy for unrestricted internet access worldwide.

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