Internet Yetu has joined the #KeepitOn campaign by Access Now. The #KeepItOn campaign unites and organizes the global effort to end internet shutdowns. An Internet shutdown is an intentional disruption of internet or electronic communications, rendering them inaccessible or effectively unusable, for a specific population or within a location, often to exert control over the flow of the information. Shutdowns are also sometimes called “blackouts” or “kill switches.”
Internet Yetu has officially joined the #KeepitOn campaign by @accessnow . We'll join forces with more than 50 International Organizations to push back against Internet Shutdowns globally. Read more here https://t.co/hsplhvjOFV pic.twitter.com/sDf8Lkgr7G
— Internet Yetu (@InternetYetu) July 10, 2018
Internet shutdowns happen when governments order companies to disrupt networks and cut off access to communication tools-like Twitter, SMS, or Facebook. Unfortunately, companies like telcos and ISPs nearly always comply with these government orders, which can be legally binding.
Why do governments order shutdowns?
According to Access Now’s Raw Data and documentation, governments did not give any reason for their orders in many cases. For the cases where an explanation was given, the most common justifications were :
- Public safety
- Stop rumors and dissemination of illegal content
- School exams
- National security
- Technical problems
However, Access Now records show that the most common suspected actual causes of Internet shutdowns are:
- Stop protests
- Quell political instability
- Control elections
- Control information
Haiti's internet is down, with fiber cables cut, during protests over gas prices. Internet shutdowns violate human rights. They're common elsewhere, but rare in the Americas. #keepiton See https://t.co/flsC6RPLBY #HaitiProtests FYI @KatzOnEarth ht @InternetIntel
— Peter Micek (@lawyerpants) July 8, 2018
What is Access Now doing to reduce shutdowns?
Access Now launched the Shutdown Stories Project and the Shutdown Tracker Optimization Project (STOP) to effectively document the impact of Internet shutdowns through the lens of personal narratives and numbers. These projects contextualize the harm brought to global netizens by the increasing number of Internet shutdowns, and evoke actions and remedies to put an end to Internet disruptions. They have become indispensable tools for organizing against shutdowns globally.
Furthermore, they’re working with more than 150 organizations from nearly 60 countries to push back against this practice at all levels. This includes the United Nations, governments, and key stakeholders such as telecommunications companies and investors.
Find out more here
Are shutdowns becoming more frequent ?
Yes. Access Now has documented over 80 shutdowns in 2018 (January to June alone), up from less than 20 in 2015. The trend does appear to be growing because more people are going online and using the internet. People are enjoying the freedom and opportunities that the internet provides, enabling them to organize themselves and advocate for what they believe in. In response, governments are shutting down the net to stop this practice, but at an enormous cost.
Does shutdown affect businesses ?
Businesses suffer immensely during internet shutdowns. The Brookings Institution, a major think tank, found that the global economy lost at least $2.4 billion during internet shutdowns in 2016. Online banks, courier services, and internet companies have all lost drastic amounts of money during disruptions. This especially hurts developing countries, which are striving to embrace the digital economy and innovation.
No doubt that Internet shutdowns harm our human rights significantly. But can we measure the consequences? @netblocks tries to measure economic impacts of network disruptions. Read more: https://t.co/naLiWB1qOJ #KeepItOn pic.twitter.com/2gIZ9tQryI
— Global Digital Policy Incubator (@Stanford_GDPi) July 10, 2018
Is Internet shutdowns an important topic?
Definitely. The Internet helps us realize our human rights, including free expression and privacy. When governments shut off the Internet, people can’t communicate with loved ones, run their businesses or even visit their doctors during an emergency. More and more people need the Internet to connect and make a living, and cannot afford to lose access on a regular basis.
The worst thing we can do is sit back and do nothing, when it’s within our power to do something! If the world outlaws this practice entirely then we can hold people accountable for violating the rules.
How can you help fight shutdowns ?
You can take action on the Access Now website and pressure world leaders to commit to keeping the internet on.
You can also make a difference by telling people that this issue matters and needs to stop. Take to social media, and use the hashtag #KeepItOn .
Shutdowns have happened in 41 countries globally since Janury 2016. Asia and Africa are the most affected regions around the world. India, for example, has had 159 instances of shutdowns since January 2016 and in Cameroon, there were 230 days of shutdown in Anglophone regions between January 2017 and March 2018.
Additionally, some countries haven’t actually ordered a shutdown, but they have the ability to do so and many other countries have old or outdated laws that they can easily interpret to authorise a shutdown.These are the reasons why Over 150 civil society groups from nearly 60 countries are members of the #KeepitOn campaign.
Civil Society groups, like Internet Yetu, have a huge role to play in ending the practice of shutdowns. We can speak out to our leaders, collect information and evidence about shutdowns, educate our communities, and develop ways for people to stop shutdowns. I believe that we all need to work together to reach a solution.