What If There Is No Internet?

Markos Lemma founded a co-working space, IceAddis in Addis Ababa and being the technology innovation hub, there is usually much hustle going on till the internet goes off. Once the internet shuts down, everything stops on its way.

Access Now, a digital rights group’s data shows in 2019 the internet was shut down intentionally 200 times in over 33 different countries.

In April 2019, London’s Tube network’s Wi-Fi was shut down by the British Transport Police while a protest by Extinction Rebellion, climate activists, was going on.

As per data of internet shutdowns in last year:

· During 65 protests worldwide, the internet was deliberately shut down

· During election campaigns, the internet went off 12 times

· Most of the times, the internet was shut down in India

· The longest period of a shutdown was in Chad, in central Africa where the internet was unavailable for almost 15 months

According to Markos Lemma, everything stops when the internet shuts down. People either do not come to work and even if they do, they do not stay for long as without the internet there is nothing to do.

Lemma said they had a software development project contract that was canceled because it was delivered on time due to the unavailability of the internet. At times, international businesses do not trust as they assume they are being ignored, but nothing can be done if there is no internet.

If internet disconnects, people are unable to order online and food delivery drivers often have to wait as they cannot connect online. Unavailability of inter directly affects people and local businesses.

The effects of no internet are not just in a certain part of the world, millions of people are affected by it from all over the world.

The government can shut down the internet anytime by ordering the internet providers to disconnect the internet in the certain area or either block the specific web services. Human rights groups are considering a government's way of oppressing masses.

According to a news agency’s data, the shutdowns are mostly at the time of protests. The government claims it as an action for the safety of people and to avoid the spread of any fake news.

Back in 2016, the internet was declared a human right by the UN and it is one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal to make it accessible universally. However, some of the leaders refused to accept it as Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed said the internet is the basic necessity, therefore, to maintain national stability, a shutdown of the internet is essential.

Lemma got furious saying government thinking in a limited aspect as far as the internet is concerned, they fail to recognize it something more than just social media. They are unable to comprehend how beneficial the internet can be for the economy of the country.

Most Number of Shutdown in India

The data shows most of the internet shutdowns were in India in 2019. Broadband or mobile data services were disconnected for over 121 times for the public. Most of the time, the shutdown was in the disputed area of India, Kashmir.

Throttling is a kind of blackout that cannot be easily monitored and is often used by the government to slow down internet services. The modern fast connections like 4G are reduced to the old 2G which makes it difficult to share videos or do live streams on social media.

Like in May 2019, Tajikistan’s President self-confessed the throttling of social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, calling them vulnerable to terrorist activities.

Countries like Russia and Iran are developing and testing their own ways of slowing down the internet to have better control over the web.

Access Now, the digital rights group thinks countries are increasingly finding ways to shut down the internet to silence the opposition, the critiques by violating human rights without being caught.

Read next: Internet Crimes on the Rise: Virtual currency saw the largest percentage increase; others include extortion, lottery, social media, and personal data breaches
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