Syrian Internet Shutdown

Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 16:45

The Global Network Initiative (GNI) is alarmed by the nationwide shutdown of the Internet, as well as reported communications network disruptions, in Syria. Data from Internet monitoring companies starkly shows the loss of international connectivity, as does traffic from Google’s Transparency Report. We urge the Syrian government to restore access. 

Information and communications technologies play an essential role facilitating the free flow of information around the world. Governments who use network shutdowns in moments of crisis infringe upon the right to freedom of expression and violate fundamental human rights of their citizens.

Companies face significant challenges when operating in these markets, particularly amid the ongoing conflict in Syria. GNI recommends that companies be transparent with their users to the maximum extent possible when operating in Internet-restricting countries. If human rights policies are not already in place, companies should also issue urgent guidance to in-country staff to ensure that their response is consistent with international human rights standards.

GNI can help companies develop strategies to operate in ways that respect the rights of users, even in such challenging situations.

GNI is a multi-stakeholder group of companies, civil society organizations (including human rights and press freedom groups), investors and academics, who have created a collaborative approach to protect and advance freedom of expression and privacy in the ICT sector. GNI provides resources for ICT companies to help them address difficult issues related to freedom of expression and privacy that they may face anywhere in the world. GNI has created a framework of principles and a confidential, collaborative approach to working through challenges of corporate responsibility in the ICT sector.