Home >Opinion >Quick Edit >Opinion | The Net has spoken

As protests over the controversial new citizenship law rage across the country, the government has snapped off the net in various trouble spots. According to the Internet Shutdown Tracker, an interactive portal, the net has been switched off 95 times already this year. The count was 134 in 2018. These statistics should alarm us. The objective of such digital blackouts, as the government often says, is to block the spread of fake news and rumours, and contain the spread of violence. But snap-offs impose economic costs. According to a study by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, between 2012 and 2017, India lost an average of $186,332 per hour on account of net shutdowns. For a country aiming to become a $5-trillion economy and wanting to ride the information wave, that’s a cause for worry.

In recent years, internet blackouts have emerged as a freedom-of-expression issue in the West, something that democracies are expected not to trample upon. While the state does have a responsibility to uphold law and order, it may be time to look at how that can be done in ways that do not deprive us of internet access.

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