11:49 GMT25 January 2021
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    In recent decades, the internet has emerged as the driving force behind the wave of globalisation. In 2020, however, disruptions to the web reached 27,165 hours globally, affecting an estimated 268 million people worldwide. The revelation has been made by a UK-based cyber research firm – Top10VPN.

    India came top out of 21 countries in restricting web access to citizens at some point during the past year, 2020.

    The South Asian country’s decision to shut down the internet in the Kashmir valley since August 2019 was the biggest contributing factor to India's reaching first place on Top10VPN’s report titled “Global Cost of Internet Shutdowns”. 

    The internet, along with other forms of communication, was suspended on 5 August 2019 after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government removed the "temporary special status" of the then Jammu and Kashmir state. Although telephone services resumed, the internet remained unavailable.

    Because of a total of  8,927 hours of curbed bandwidth access, the shutdowns cost India a whopping $2.8 billion last year – nearly three-quarters of the total lost globally to web curbs.

    After India, other countries at the top of the list include Myanmar , Belarus, and Yemen.

    Myanmar restricted internet in its Chin and Rakhine regions for 5,160 hours. And, although Belarus's 218 hours of net blackout cost the country $336.4 million in 2020, Yemen's 912 hours of lack of connectivity cost a comparatively small $237 million, the report noted.

    The British cyber firm calculated that approximately 42 percent of the net shutdowns were associated with additional human rights abuses along with restrictions on freedom of assembly, election interference and infringements on freedom of the press.

    Some countries which are known to limit internet access or to censor material - such as China and North Korea - were not included in the report as its compilers documenting the internet and social media shutdowns relied on publicly available information.

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