Deji from Access Now writes, "How much does it cost to shut down the internet? A new report by the Brookings Institution assesses costs during a one year period between 2015-2016 and found immense losses. It's just a baseline too — and doesn't even include things like mobile money or lost tax receipts. The real number is likely much higher."
It is important to point out that this analysis only looked at the
economic impact on Gross Domestic Product. It did not include
estimates for lost tax revenues associated with blocked digital
access, impact on worker productivity, barriers to business
expansion connected with these shutdowns, or the loss of
investor, consumer, and business confidence resulting from such
disruptions. As such, the $2.4 billion figure is a conservative
estimate that likely understates the actual economic damage.
Also of note, the tracking and monitoring of government ordered
internet disruptions is very difficult and publicly available data are likely incomplete. Given the nature and
complexity of the internet, it is often difficult even for technical experts and internet companies to understand exactly
what is causing a localized traffic anomaly. In addition, in some cases governments may have an incentive to claim
that certain disruptions are the result of technical errors or infrastructure failure, rather than intentional government
actions. Consequently, there is a need for both more research in this areas and more investment in technology and
organizations to independently track and monitor such disruptions.
Most of the documented shutdowns we were able to identify were in the developing world. If there were a temporary
shutdown of the internet in a developed economy, the economic damage would be enormous. For example, the
United States currently has a Gross Domestic Product of US$18.438 trillion, six percent of which is derived from
the internet sector.24 If there were a national internet outage for one week (or 1.9% of the year), that would reduce
economic activity by at least US$54.1 billion. And if that outage lasted an entire year, the economic costs would be
at least US$2.8 trillion.
Internet shutdowns cost countries $2.4 billion last year [Darrell M. West/Brookings]