Special Report

Countries Where the Government Shuts Down the Internet

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19. Eswatini
> Internet shutdowns in 2021: 2
> Individuals using the internet: 30.3% of population
> Fixed broadband subscriptions: 1.0 per 100 people
> Total population: 1.2 million

The government of this tiny landlocked absolute monarchy in southern Africa shut down the internet at least twice last year in response to pro-democracy protests. Eswatini King Mswati III has been in power since 1986.

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18. Turkmenistan
> Internet shutdowns in 2021: 2
> Individuals using the internet: 21.3% of population
> Fixed broadband subscriptions: 0.2 per 100 people
> Total population: 6.0 million

This isolationist Central Asian country maintains strict control of internet access and cuts access completely in places where protests erupt, as it did for 13 days last year in the town of Khorog. Users must swear on the Quran, the Islamic holy book, not to use VPN circumvention tools before signing up for service.

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17. Chad
> Internet shutdowns in 2021: 2
> Individuals using the internet: 10.4% of population
> Fixed broadband subscriptions: <0.0 per 100 people
> Total population: 16.4 million

An Amnesty International report last year said that since 2016, politically motivated and long internet shutdowns totaled nearly 2.5 years out of a five-year period. This country’s military junta is headed by Mahamat Déby, the son of longtime leader Idriss Déby who was killed last year while fighting rebels.

16. Syria
> Internet shutdowns in 2021: 2
> Individuals using the internet: 35.8% of population
> Fixed broadband subscriptions: 8.9 per 100 people
> Total population: 17.5 million

Syria shuts down the internet every spring during its high school examination period, ostensibly to limit cheating. Like other authoritarian states, the Syrian government severely restricts internet access, detains citizens for their online activity, and limits the amount of data residents can use each month.

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15. Kazakhstan
> Internet shutdowns in 2021: 2
> Individuals using the internet: 85.9% of population
> Fixed broadband subscriptions: 14.0 per 100 people
> Total population: 18.8 million

This large Eurasian country routinely cuts access to the internet and mobile connectivity when mass riots or alleged anti-terrorism operations are taking place. In January, the government shut off the internet nationwide over protests against a sharp jump in fuel prices.

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