On 27 June, the Global Network Initiative Now co-hosted a learning call on government-sponsored intentional network disruptions alongside the Freedom Online Coalition and AccessNow.

GNI sought feedback on our one-page brief“Weighing the Impact of Network Shutdowns and Service Restrictions,” to be launched next week. We hope this tool will assist efforts to engage with governments on the potential harms of disruptions before they occur.

The call addressed global efforts to counter intentional disruptions of the Internet by government actors, with conversation structured around the following areas:

  • A personal account of how users in Anglophone Cameroon were affected by the 93-day internet shutdown in 2017 including how citizens mobilized #bringbackourinternet and what sort of support they received from the international community;
  • A summary to date of the work of the #KeepitOn Campaign (130 civil society organizations from 56 countries) and outcomes of the the multistakeholder #KeepitOn Summit in March 2017 in Brussels.
  • UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, David Kaye, provided an overview of the analysis of government-sponsored disruptions and service restrictions from his new report on the Internet and Telecommunications Industry;
  • An overview of the FOC’s March 2017 Joint Statement on Network Disruptions and accompanying Good Practices Document, including perspectives from government, business, and civil society representatives about how these documents can be used by stakeholders to pushback against disruptions;
  • Updates on ongoing shutdowns in Bahrain, Pakistan, India, as well as looming threats surrounding issues such as school exams, elections, and political unrest, along with tips on where and how to engage on network disruption issues around upcoming events, particularly future opportunities for collaboration; and
  • Examples of the wide-ranging impacts of internet shutdowns on family life, education, health care, personal livelihood, and local government and commercial services, which illustrate the importance of integrating economic and social arguments with human rights arguments, (with reference to the work from the Brookings Institution and the Global Network Initiative).

Participants included members of the GNI, #KeepitOn Coalition, and the FOC (including both governments and members of the former multistakeholder working groups), and the conversation followed the Chatham House rule.

GNI Resources on Shutdowns

GNI and Telecommunications Industry Dialogue (former) Joint Statement on Network Shutdowns: The first ever statement of concern by global telcos and internet companies on network and service disruptions

The Economic Impact of Disruptions to Internet Connectivity: Deloitte report launched by GNI, highlighting the significant economic damage caused around the world by deliberate shutdowns and disruptions to the Internet

2016 IGF Panel: “Inclusive Responses to Intentional Internet Disruptions,” where experts and policymakers explored three topics related to shutdowns’ connections to moments of political importance, economic impacts, and technical considerations