Internet kill switch

  • Internet Blackouts — where access to the internet is completely cut off. This extreme measure cannot be directly circumvented.
  • Social media shutdowns — where access to popular social media platforms, such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter or YouTube has been blocked. These can typically be circumvented by using a VPN.

An expensive affair

The ubiquity of Internet shutdowns around the world is slowly but quietly putting nations around the world on a slippery economic slope. As the digital economy expands, it will become even more expensive for nations to shut down the internet.

Jobs at stake

For starters, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression has underlined that Internet shutdowns represent a dramatic means of limiting fundamental freedoms. As more and more education, business, culture and communications take place over the Internet, turning this off has a major effect on the lives of the people affected.

Splintering away

If you notice, the most well-known examples of splintering away from the internet come from countries that have placed significant national firewalls and surveillance monitoring systems like China’s “Great Firewall” and Russia’s more recent Sovereign Internet Law, other forms of internet regulation also exist in the shape of surveillance laws (like in India and the UK), as well as data privacy laws like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that give internet users more control over the data they’re giving to different services.

Of walled gardens & nationalising hardware

But it’s not just software. Increasingly, the hardware itself is being nationalized. Now, some of this is market division. For instance: The iPhone is the dominant device in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Switzerland, and Japan. But those are the only countries in which the iPhone is the dominant phone. In the rest of the world, some phones from the Android ecosystem are the dominant ones, and iPhone shares are quite small. Indeed, the iPhone has less than one-third of the overall market.

Encryption, Interoperability & more

Maybe, this is a sign to promote technologies that are resilient to government censorship. End-to-end encryption of phones and messaging shall be a good start. And, given that blockchain still hovers as a fringe technology, it could help protect the internet.

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Aditya Gupta

Aditya Gupta

Building | Product, Growth & Business | Investments @Hustle Partners | 2x exit | Startups. Travel. Music. Curious. Learner.