Akriti Bopanna

Author Archives: Akriti Bopanna

Internet Shutdowns: How to Undermine Trust in the Network of Networks

The Indian government’s recent Internet shutdown during farmer protests impacted over 50 million residents. It is a stark warning of the danger of tampering with the foundations that make the Internet work for everyone.

Internet shutdowns are a dangerous tactic increasingly used by the state to quell situations of unrest. In this instance, it occurred during protests in the capital, Delhi, where farmers are asking for a repeal of three state-proposed farm laws. But while the initial Internet shutdown was targeted in Delhi and lasted around 29 hours, it soon extended to districts in the neighboring state of Haryana from 26 January to 1 February to “prevent disturbance to peace and public order”.

The consequence of shutting down parts of the Internet to prevent citizen access is profound: it undermines the global Internet infrastructure, which is based on collaboration and trust, and has severe individual and economic consequences that can extend far beyond a nation’s borders.

The Internet is an incredibly successful and powerful tool, a fact that has become all too clear during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a key technology for supporting education, economic activity, and even access to healthcare for those under stay-at-home orders. Continue reading