Internet Shutdowns have become ineffective, but governments refuse to move on

Over the past decade, Internet has become a force to be reckoned with. Everything from entertainment to jobs and businesses has slowly been shifting to internet and this is why many governments want to make sure that it is regulated constantly. Due to this, internet disruptions and shutdowns are quite common in different parts of the world, especially in Asia (and particularly in India) and many parts of the African continent.

Moreover, the interesting part is when these governments justify themselves for their actions. Although the most used claim is that the ban’s implementation is for public’s security and maintaining order, it is believed that the restrictions are mainly due to the government’s insecurities regarding internet control (more specifically, information control).

It is a well-known fact that internet and social media has messed up the older government political control forms. Moreover, the fact that information can now spread like fire in a matter of moments and it has become nearly impossible to contain anything, due to the rise of Internet, sometimes shutting it down temporarily is thought of as an ideal solution.

Chart Statista. Data: ICRIER

Now, ban doesn’t necessarily mean a complete blackout. There are three basic ways how government “regulates” the internet.

Complete Block:
By following this approach, the entire internet access gets blocked within an area, city or even country. However, this approach significantly hits the country financially, adversely affecting the GDP for each day the internet coverage is suspended. According to a report by Deloitte, the loss in daily GDP can be 1.9%, 1% and 0.4% in cases of average connectivity, average to medium level connectivity and average to low connectivity respectively. Thus, these losses can seriously harm the growth of that particular country.
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Content Block:
With this approach, the access to certain sites is blocked. This approach is the most common out of the three and it is used most frequently on Social Media platforms as a “preventive measure” to limit certain conversations.

Bandwidth Throttle:
It can be regarded as the most frustrating approach. This strategy involves the Internet Service Providers lowering the signal quality and tampering with the internet speed. Due to this, internet becomes too slow to use, and this causes a lot of users to lose patience and get off the internet for a while.
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Now, it’s a matter of perception whether one considers these shutdowns as effective. These bans can lead to outrageous behaviors and the result can be something that violates the purpose behind banning the internet in the first place.

As for its effectiveness, in today’s world, restricting access to sites isn’t a credible approach due to availability of VPNs, which allow a user to access blocked sites by redirecting internet activities to a system in an entirely different part of the world.

Thus, it should be stated that in today’s age, finding a solution or an alternative to a problem, especially an internet one, isn’t that difficult and perhaps, shutting down the internet services may not be such an effective technique than it once was.

Photo: Wodicka / Ullstein Bild / Getty Images

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