India’s Internet Shutdown in Kashmir Now RECORD Breaking

India's Internet Shutdown in Kashmir Now RECORD Breaking

The shutdown, which entered its 134th day Monday, is now the longest ever imposed in a democracy, according to Access Now, an international advocacy group that tracks Internet suspensions. Only authoritarian regimes such as China and Myanmar have cut off the Internet for longer. Follow The Damage Report on Facebook:

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"India imposed the shutdown on Aug. 5, when authorities revoked Kashmir’s autonomy and statehood, snapped all communications and detained the region’s mainstream politicians. Landlines and calls on some mobile phones were subsequently restored, but the Internet remains blocked — a move Indian authorities say is necessary to maintain security in the restive territory claimed by both India and Pakistan.

The 7 million people in the Kashmir Valley were abruptly returned to a pre-Internet era. They are unable to operate online businesses or read this article. In early December, they began disappearing from WhatsApp because accounts are automatically deleted after 120 days of inactivity. Journalists rely on a government-run center with just 10 computers to file their stories. The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce estimates $1.4 billion in losses already.

“The original idea that was asserted by the government for shutting down communications was to prohibit unrest, but that really cannot be the argument after four months,” said David Kaye, the U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of expression. He called the blockage “draconian” and “worse than collective punishment.”

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