GNI Workshop at 2016 IGF: Inclusive Responses to Intentional Internet Disruptions

Saturday, December 10, 2016 - 11:16

Internet Governance Forum, Guadalajara, Mexico

Alongside International Media Support and Access Now, GNI convened experts from governments, companies, and civil society for a workshop exploring the increasing instances of network shutdowns, the costs they entail, and possible responses to this growing trend.  


  • Ken Adu-Amanfoh, National Communications Authority, Ghana
  • Gigi Alford, U.S. State Department
  • Judith Lichtenberg, Global Network Initiative
  • Andy O’Connell, Facebook
  • Deji Olukotun, Access Now

Read the transcript

The workshop used breakout groups to facilitate detailed discussions of three topics pertaining to shutdowns: connections to elections and moments of political importance, economic impacts, and technical considerations. 


Progress: Ghana’s decision to not shut down the Internet on Election Day, helped by the President’s awareness of ICT issues and pressure from civil society and companies, could resonate internationally. 


  • Decision-makers may not understand ICT issues.
  • Legal frameworks and election laws may permit shutdowns. 


  • Develop a 1 page document with arguments against shutdowns that can be used to engage decision-makers.
  • Look to examples such as Australian government’s guidelines on website blocking to develop good practice that could deter shutdowns. 

Economic Impacts

Progress: Publication of reports quantifying the economic costs of internet disruptions by the Brookings Institution and Deloitte. 


  • Diversity of types of disruptions and challenges documenting the costs leads to conservative estimates.


  • Develop better measurement systems to create robust data sets. Get economists to study and debate this issue, and involve the International Financial Institutions.
  • Localize studies with in-depth research on particular disruptions at the national level, and put this issue on the agenda at regional and local events.

Technical Considerations

Progress: Technical blog posts documenting recent shutdowns by Cloudflare and OONI demonstrate the potential for accountability through monitoring of disruptions. 


  • Technical measures can be informed by political biases, with a tendency to assume certain shutdowns are politically motivated and others are not.
  • Need for external assistance, such as active measurements from other data sources or in-country expertise, to complement measurement efforts. 


  • Bring together passive measurements from service providers with active measurement from purposeful tools to improve data collection.