The Anatomy of an Internet Blackout: Measuring the Economic Impact of Internet Shutdowns

The role of the Internet in connecting people and businesses and in delivering good governance is now well recognised. For emerging markets like India that suffer from traditional infrastructure and institutional deficits, the Internet has provided a ray of hope. The benefits of openness and connectedness have to be weighed against the economic costs of censorship of the Internet, often imposed as a government decree. Recent shutdowns have been motivated by national security interests. The study aims to measure the economic impact of an Internet shutdown in India using a macro-econometric model. The measure of loss at the economy-wide level will be supported with case studies of the impact on individual businesses / services facilitated by the Internet. Case studies will be selected on the basis of stakeholder consultations to adequately represent the Internet economy. This will include individuals, service providers, content developers, and small and medium sized businesses that operate extensively on the Internet. Findings from this study will highlight another facet of the internet economy and, in the process, contribute to the growing discourse on Internet policy and Internet governance in India.