Top10VPN conducted a study to calculate the economic cost of internet shutdowns globally and for individual countries in 2020. Belarus is one of them. Recall that the Belarusian authorities turned off the internet for full three days in August after the presidential election and then blocked access to it on the weekends for several months.
According to the report, internet outages in Belarus lasted 218 hours, the total cost of restrictions reached $336,4 million. Besides, the internet shutdowns were accompanied by human rights abuses, such as the right to peaceful assembly, election interference and press freedoms.
“During the internet restrictions, there were multiple reports of police brutality, torture, and attacks on the press. In one report, Amnesty International said police had ‘brutally tortured hundreds of peaceful protesters.’
In response, protesters turned to privacy apps including Telegram and VPNs in a bid to continue organising protests. During the period of restrictions, we documented a 650% spike in VPN demand compared to the 30-day average,” reads the report.
Top10VPN claims that major intentional internet shutdown in 2020 cost a world economy already devastated by the pandemic a further $4 billion, down by 50% from 2019. Last year 93 major shutdowns which lasted 27,165 hours took place in 21 countries.
At least 268 million people were affected by major disruptions. 42% of shutdowns were associated with additional abuses: 29% of them were associated with restrictions on freedom of assembly, 15% with election interference and 12% with infringements on freedom of the press.
India was the most economically-impacted nation by shutdowns, at a cost of $2,8 billion. Belarus is a close second: our losses amounted to $336,4 million and affected 7,9 million internet users. Yemen takes the third spot in the list with 912 hours and total cost of restrictions – $236,8 million.
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