India has the potential to be a global leader in promoting democratic technology norms, but instead it leads the way with internet shutdowns.By Justin ShermanAugust 21, 2020
On Sunday, India restored 4G internet services in two districts of Kashmir, Reuters reported, in a region which has been the site of the longest internet shutdown ever in any democracy. Authorities shut down the internet in Jammu and Kashmir beginning in August 2019 when the Narendra Modi administration stripped the region of its previous autonomy and then began a long and harsh crackdown on residents. Chinese state propaganda outlets have even been quick to jump on these events as an absurd justification for cyber sovereignty measures — aka using them as a bad excuse for internet repression within China.
India is the world’s most populous democracy, which is why it might surprise some that the country led the world in volume of internet shutdowns in 2018 and again in 2019. It may likewise surprise that a democracy continues to limit internet access in a large part of the country even though its Supreme Court ruled in January 2020 that indefinitely suspending the internet was illegal. “We are of the opinion that an order suspending the aforesaid services indefinitely is impermissible,” the court said. So why is the internet still not fully restored?