How Will Internet Restrictions Impact Elections in 2024?

90 countries all around the world are set to hold elections in 2024. Many of these nations have a history of restricting internet access and taking part in widespread censorship. Such a trend is harmful because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up undermining the fairness and authenticity of elections, and a report from Surfshark shed some light on where things might go from here.

Based on the findings presented within this report, 12 of the 90 countries that are holding elections this year have restricted internet access in prior elections. Three out of four restrictions involved limiting internet connectivity entirely, with the remaining quarter cracking down on the use of social media platforms.

With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that there have been 29 cases of internet restrictions since 2015 in Sub-Saharan Africa alone. This is the highest number seen in any region around the world, with South Asia coming in second with 29 instances of restrictions being placed.

India alone is responsible for restricting internet access on 4 separate occasions since 2015. This South Asian power house is set to head to the polls in spring, alongside Iran which itself has restricted internet access 3 times in the same period. This seems to suggest that these countries will repeat their past actions, something that will make their electoral process far less egalitarian than might have been the case otherwise.

The average economic freedom score of the countries that have imposed internet crackdowns in past elections is 32 out of 100. This is far lower than the global average of 58. As a result of the fact that this is the case, many are concerned that unfair elections will further reduce economic equality in this beleaguered nation states. Digital suppression doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The research shows that it is a sign of a widespread tendency among governments to refuse its citizens certain rights. Disruptions caused by these elections may ripple out into many other spheres of life and have a wider impact on the world.

Sub-Saharan Africa leads with 29 internet restriction cases since 2015; Surfshark report exposes digital suppression concerns.
Chart: SurfShark

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