India’s Internet Blackouts Point to Potential for Decentralization: Software Freedom Law Center Analysis
A recent article by Slate delved into internet shutdowns. The article explains that reported internet shutdowns imposed by the government in India have reached over 300 in the past six years, according to Software Freedom Law Center tracker.
According to Access Now, an internet shutdown “happens when someone – usually a government – intentionally disrupts the internet or mobile apps to control what people say or do.”
Internet shutdowns can be caused by a number of reasons, and though some may be legitimate, more often than not, they are illegitimate. Perhaps a legitimate means is to prevent cheating on exams or to protect the security of an organization. However, less than savory reasons include preventing groups from participating in free speech and to curtail association.
The issue with internet shutdowns begs the question of whether a decentralized internet is the solution. Blockchain technology has the power to support a decentralized internet. According to Hackernoon, a network of many computers and widely distributed data would provide power and memory to the distributed storage network system.
Because data is not stored in a single privately-owned silo, no central point can be hacked or controlled. This type of system is known as a peer-to-peer infrastructure of nodes. There is an uphill climb to get to a decentralized internet, though. For example, there are still outstanding issues of scalability, transaction processing, and interoperability.
Over time, the resolution of these issues may lead to a more solid foundation for a decentralized internet, and the infrequency of internet shutdowns imposed by governments.
And such decentralization may be welcome, too. India is not the only government that shuts down its internet from time to time. Africa, China, Russia, and South America are known for shutting down their internet, or at a minimum, either throttling it or denying access to certain applications.