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Internet shutdowns: A study of social impact in India is the second in the series of DEF’s efforts for advocacy against internet shutdowns. The previous research report, Anatomy of virtual curfews: Human rights vs national security, highlights the existing and emerging threats to fundamental rights and human rights on account of arbitrary, unnecessary, and disproportionate imposition of Internet shutdowns in India. The current research paper is an effort to understand the social and psychological impact of network shutdowns on the lives of people.

This study identifies how such shutdowns impact the lives of people at the micro level. It concerns itself with the psychological and social impact that network shutdowns have on those affected. By analysing media reports and conducting interviews with citizens living under dire conditions, this paper seeks to identify the impact network shutdowns have on various social and cultural rights, like — access to education and amenities, impact on livelihood, and psychological impact of social exclusions due to restricted access to the internet.

This paper documents on-ground stories and experiences to build a strong and effective case against network shutdowns, with specific focus on the social and psychological impact. The paper has analysed media reports of shutdowns (till August 2017) and conducted interviews in the affected areas of Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir to find the inter-link between internet shutdowns and their impact on the socio-cultural-economic well-being of citizens.