Shrinking Democracy, Growing Violence: Internet Shutdowns in 2023


This report was published in May 2024 by Access Now for the #KeepItOn campaign which promotes the end of internet shutdowns. The report is authored by Zach Rosson, Felicia Anthonio, and Carolyn Tackett in collaboration with the Access Now team. It provides a comprehensive database on internet shutdowns all over the world for the year 2023.

The report notes that authorities have used internet shutdowns to worsen violence, war crimes, and other undemocratic offences. Many lives have been lost due to this tactic, from Palestine to Myanmar, Sudan to Ukraine. The report states that in 2023, there were 283 cases of internet shutdown across 39 countries. Out of these, 116 shutdowns happened in India, making it the nation leading in internet shutdowns. 

This 58-page document is divided into seven sections: Internet shutdowns in 2023: a global overview (Section 1); Triggers for Internet shutdowns in 2023 (Section 2); New and continuing trends in 2023 (Section 3); Internet shutdowns by region (Section 4); Fighting back in 2023: Growth, support, solidarity, and resilience (Section 5), Recommendations for stakeholders (Section 6) and Join Us (Section 7).


  1. In 2023, there were a record-breaking 283 cases of internet shutdowns across 39 countries, the highest number ever recorded in a single year. This marked a 41 per cent increase from 2022 and a 28 per cent increase from 2019. 

  2. The report states that the geographic scope of shutdowns in broadening. As high as 80 shutdowns impacted multiple regions or entire countries. 

  3. Natural disasters were a new trigger for shutdowns in 2023, with 4 shutdowns occurring during natural disasters in 4 countries. Shutdowns during natural disasters, such as the floods in Libya and the earthquake in Türkiye, severely hindered emergency response efforts and access to critical information.

  4. Shutdowns were triggered due to conflicts, protests, exams, elections and natural calamities. The report notes 63 protest-related shutdowns and 12 shutdowns due to exams. 

  5. Conflicts were the leading trigger for internet shutdowns in 2023, with 74 shutdowns across nine countries, including Azerbaijan, Ethiopia, and Ukraine. These shutdowns often coincided with acts of violence and were used to cover up atrocities, the report states. 

  6. India, Iran, Myanmar, and Ukraine made up four of the top five countries with the highest number of shutdowns in both 2022 and 2023. India ranked first with 116 shutdowns, followed by Myanmar and Iran with 37 and 34 shutdowns respectively. 

  7. Shutdowns and platform blocks disproportionately affect marginalised communities. For instance, Grindr, a social networking app for LGBTQ+ people, was blocked in several countries, exacerbating the isolation and marginalisation of these communities. 

  8. In 2023, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice further developed its legal stance against internet shutdowns by ruling that Guinea's shutdowns during the 2020 constitutional referendum and general election were unlawful. 

    Focus and Factoids by Arunima Mandwariya.


Zach Rosson, Felicia Anthonio, and Carolyn Tackett


Access Now


May, 2024