What happens when the internet vanishes? – BBC News

The internet revolutionised democracy, by giving every phone, every computer, a more equal chance to speak and share information. And during any big event whether in celebration
or in a crisis, many of us look to social media as our primary source of news. However, this network, which was built to
bring us closer together, is now under threat…. Human rights groups say turning off the internet
is now becoming a defining tool of government repression around the world. Using the very latest data, this video will
reveal the true scale of the internet black outs around the world. And show how and when
the plug is pulled. Take a look at this map, as we move through
2019, watch as the internet is turned off more than 200 times, in more than 30 countries. Sometimes an entire nation will be switched
off, but often it’s localised to a city or region. And our analysis shows these blackouts
often occur during times of political instability or civil unrest. Governments often say it’s to help ensure
public safety and stop the spread of fake news. But critics say the shutdowns stifle the flow
of information online and crack down on any potential descent offline. The data shows that in 2019 the internet was
switched off during more than 60 protests and during a dozen elections. So just how do governments shutdown the internet? When authorities order a “blackout”, internet
service providers are told to pull the plug on all social platforms such as Whatsapp,
Twitter and Telegram. Last year, the central African nation of Chad
endured one of the longest shutdowns on record, after the President ordered a nationwide blackout
for more than 15 months. Much harder to monitor though, is when governments
‘throttle’ the connection By slowing it down from 3, 4, or 5G down to
2G It becomes impossible to share videos or live
stream. Last May, the President of Tajikistan admitted
to throttling all Google platforms, as well as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, saying
they were “vulnerable to terrorist activity”. However, nowhere experiences more shutdowns
than India. In 2019, Indians experienced over 100 blackouts. Hardest hit by far, was Kashmir, where mobile
internet services were suspended for more than half of the year. With millions of people affected, forced off
social media, deprived of news and restricted in their means to contact their loved ones,
Kashmiris say the shutdown has been devastating. India says the move was necessary to maintain
law and order but economically it has been crippling, with
many local businesses being run into the ground. Around the world, the most common reason for
governments to shut down the internet is in the interest of public safety. Then they pull
the plug. So where is this all heading? What happened in Iran last year, points to
a trend that could change the future of the internet. Iran, along with Russia and Cuba, are the
only countries in the world that are currently testing their own national “internal internet”. Under such a setup, Iranian government says their systems would be protected from foreign attacks But critics say it would cut the country off from the rest of the world Last November, amid flash demonstrations over
rising fuel costs, Iran did reportedly did a trial run of its national “intranet”. It backfired. Millions of people were plunged into an information
blackout and violence erupted. Hundreds of civilians lost their lives. With state-ordered shutdowns on the rise,
the internet, a revolution which was built to bring us closer together is under threat.

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