Internet Shutdowns Don’t Make Anyone Safer

Around the world, governments are hitting on a modish new idea: Turn the internet off. Sometimes they mean it literally.

Methods vary, but the trend is clear enough. Countries are increasingly ordering telecoms and other companies to block network access, shut down messaging services, or otherwise restrict digital applications or websites, usually citing public order or national-security concerns.

In extreme cases, internet access can be “blacked out” entirely. Worldwide, such shutdowns rose to 188 last year, up from 75 in 2016.

Expect that regrettable figure to rise. For autocrats, the appeal is obvious. They can use such restrictions to suppress inconvenient news or unwanted opinions, censor political rivals, prevent activists from organizing, and stifle talk of government misdeeds.

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Author: Alexander Light

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