A recent report by Surfshark, a virtual private network company based in Lithuania, has revealed that Pakistan ranks third in the world for imposing internet restrictions during the first half of 2023. According to the Internet Shutdown Tracker analysis, Pakistan was responsible for three out of the 42 new internet restrictions worldwide, with these restrictions being implemented following the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan on May 9.
During this period, access to major social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube was restricted in the country. Additionally, temporary disruptions in cellular networks were witnessed across Pakistan for several days following the arrest.
The Surfshark report highlights that Iran and India lead the list of countries with the most internet restrictions during the first half of 2023, with Asia being the focal point of such shutdowns.
Iran experienced the highest number of internet disruptions, with 14 cases reported during the Friday protests over the Zahedan massacre. India closely followed with at least nine instances, primarily occurring during protests.
The report also noted two separate internet shutdowns in ‘Jammu and Kashmir,’ allegedly ordered by the Indian government, which brings India’s count of internet shutdowns during the six-month period to 11.
Protests were identified as the primary cause of government-imposed internet restrictions, with more than two-thirds of the new disruptions, counting to 30, being triggered by public outrage over social and political issues. The report emphasizes that the internet has become the main battleground for disseminating crucial information during times of civil unrest.
Surfshark’s Internet Censorship Tracker collects data from various sources, including news media and digital rights organizations like Netblocks and Access Now, along with information from social media companies to document cases of internet restrictions globally.