According to Surfshark’s annual report on internet censorship, in 2022, 4.2 billion people were affected by internet censorship worldwide.
Asia accounted for nearly half (47%) of all new cases in 2022.
The Jammu and Kashmir region had the highest number of recorded internet disruptions with 24, and China’s social media restrictions are some of the longest-lasting in the world.
Internet censorship remains a frequent tactic employed by autocratic governments to keep their citizens isolated from the outside world.
According to Surfshark spokeswoman Gabriele Racaityte-Krasauske, over half of the world’s population was impacted by internet censorship in the previous year.
Many of these instances involved full internet disruptions on a local or national level, which can be devastating and highly dangerous, particularly during times of war, protests, or violent government repressions.
She further states that internet restrictions can make it difficult or even impossible to mobilize individuals to defend democracy, communicate with loved ones, access news sites, and disseminate information to the outside world about current events.
In 2022, 11 Asian nations implemented new internet disruptions, bringing the total number of cases to 58.
The Jammu and Kashmir region had the highest number of disruptions globally (24), followed by Iran (11) and India (10).
Africa is the second most affected region with 5 countries imposing 13 restrictions; Sudan had the most disruptions (4), followed by Burkina Faso (3) and Zimbabwe (3).
A few of the most concerning instances of internet censorship in Asia include:
- In June, India restricted internet access during protests over military recruitment.
- In September, Iran experienced widespread internet shutdowns following the death of Mahsa Amini.
- The Jammu and Kashmir region had 24 new disruption cases, more than any other country in the world.
Burkina Faso, Russia, and Azerbaijan experienced the longest internet disruptions:
- Burkina Faso blocked access to Facebook in January and the restriction is still in effect to date.
- Russia’s disruptions on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, following the invasion of Ukraine, are still ongoing, and the country also blocked access to major international news sites.
- Azerbaijan restricted access to TikTok in September and the platform remains restricted to date.
Autocratic governments have a particularly strong hate for Facebook, and it remains heavily censored in 2022. In fact, since 2015, an overwhelming 46% of the global population has been impacted by government-imposed Facebook restrictions in some way.
“Through the past year, we’ve seen how governments have used internet shutdowns and telecommunications blackouts as a tool of repression and control, silencing journalists, civil society, and the general public. Internet connectivity today underpins all human rights, which is why it’s more critical than ever to document mass-censorship incidents and find ways to get people reconnected.” Alp Toker, Director, NetBlocks