During the first half of this year, 2023,Pakistan ranks 3rd in the global list of internet restrictions.
A report by virtual private network company SurfShark, published in Dawn newspaper, said that a half-yearly analysis of internet shutdowns showed that Pakistan was responsible for three of the 42 new restrictions worldwide, which were imposed after the arrest of former prime minister Imran Khan on May 9.
On that occasion, access to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube was restricted across the country, besides several temporary disruptions in mobile networks were also observed.
SurfShark’s report lists Pakistan behind Iran and India in the list of countries that imposed internet restrictions during the first half of 2023, with most of the internet outages reported in Asia.
Iran saw the highest number of internet outages during the period, with a total of 14 cases, all of which were reported during protests against the massacre in Zahedan.
India and Occupied Kashmir
India is slightly behind Iran with at least 9 cases, most of the closures occurred during protests.
The report surprisingly mentions two separate internet shutdowns in Occupied Kashmir, which were also apparently ordered by the Indian government, which, if included with India, brings the number of internet shutdown cases in India to 11.
The main reason for the restrictions imposed by the government on the Internet was the protests.
More than two-thirds of the new internet shutdowns were caused by public outrage over social and political issues, accounting for 30.
SurfShark’s Internet Censorship Tracker analyzes reports from news media and digital rights organizations such as NetBlocks and Access Now, and collects data from social media companies to document cases.
Facebook faced severe restrictions in the first half of 2023, which were restricted in Ethiopia, Guinea, Senegal, Pakistan and Suriname, all of which have a history of government restrictions on the internet.
Telegram, Instagram and YouTube were joint second in the list, facing bans in four countries, while WhatsApp and Twitter were third in the list, facing bans in three countries.
The report stated that Tik Tok was restricted in only one country in the first half of 2023, Ethiopia, but the US is on track to become the eighth country to ban the platform.
The first half of 2023 saw a 31 percent drop in new cases of internet disruption compared to the same period in 2022, but the number of countries imposing restrictions increased from 13 to 14.
SurfShark found that Asia as a whole had the most internet restrictions, accounting for 71 percent of new global cases, with an estimated 2.35 billion people experiencing internet censorship throughout the year.
The decline in global sanctions was mainly due to a drop in cases in occupied Kashmir, which fell from 35 cases in the first half of 2022 to just 2 in the same period in 2023, the report said.