Internet freedom in India

For five straight years, India has topped the global list of countries imposing internet bans, with about 60% of all blackouts recorded in the world, between 2016 and 2022 having been in India.

State imposed shutdowns in the last decade have cited national security and threats to public order. However, rights groups have argued that these shutdowns also violate court directives.

Shutdowns have been implemented citing reasons such as national security and threats to public order, with notable instances during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, and the abrogation of Article 370.

Indian States and Union Territories can impose an internet shutdown only in case of a “public emergency” or in the interest of “public safety”, according to the Indian Telegraph Act. However, the law does not define what qualifies as an emergency or safety issue.

The Supreme Court, in the landmark Anuradha Bhasin v. Union of India case, reiterated that internet shutdowns violate fundamental rights to freedom of expression and shutdowns lasting indefinitely are unconstitutional.