Special Report

Countries Where the Government Shuts Down the Internet

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14. Yemen
> Internet shutdowns in 2021: 2
> Individuals using the internet: 26.7% of population
> Fixed broadband subscriptions: 1.3 per 100 people
> Total population: 29.8 million

Amid Yemen’s ongoing civil war, internet access has not only been interrupted by Saudi- and UAE-led air strikes targeting telecommunication infrastructure, but also by warring parties inside the country that shut down access allegedly to hide human rights violations.

13. Iraq
> Internet shutdowns in 2021: 2
> Individuals using the internet: 60.0% of population
> Fixed broadband subscriptions: 15.5 per 100 people
> Total population: 40.2 million

As with most of its neighbors in the region, the Iraqi government strictly controls internet use and routinely shuts down access to its citizens completely. Popular social media sites are blocked whenever massive anti government protests erupt.

Source: Ibnul Asaf Jawed Susam / iStock via Getty Images

12. Bangladesh
> Internet shutdowns in 2021: 2
> Individuals using the internet: 24.8% of population
> Fixed broadband subscriptions: 6.1 per 100 people
> Total population: 164.7 million

Last October, Bangladesh’s telecommunications regulator ordered the country’s three mobile operators GrameenPhone, Robi Axiata, and Banglalink to temporarily shut down internet service amid heated protests and attacks on temples over alleged sacrilege by members of the Hindu minority. Bangladesh routinely shuts down access to the internet or social media sites during periods of unrest.

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11. Nigeria
> Internet shutdowns in 2021: 2
> Individuals using the internet: 35.5% of population
> Fixed broadband subscriptions: <0.0 per 100 people
> Total population: 206.1 million

Nigeria’s telecommunications regulator ordered mobile network providers to temporarily shut down internet and mobile phone communications last September during anti-kidnapping operations in the country’s northwest. Africa’s largest country by population and economic clout is also weighing a bill that would strengthen the government’s ability to disrupt internet access and block social media.

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10. Pakistan
> Internet shutdowns in 2021: 2
> Individuals using the internet: 25.0% of population
> Fixed broadband subscriptions: 1.1 per 100 people
> Total population: 220.9 million

In April of last year, Pakistan authorities ordered an hours-long shutdown of social media and instant messaging platforms amid violent protests against France over President Emmanuel Macron’s expressed support for the right of the press to re-published blasphemous cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad. Pakistan routinely shuts down or severely limits internet access, as it did in January ahead of protests in support of ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan.

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