AMSTERDAM AND WASHINGTON DC – The Global Network Initiative is concerned about the government-ordered disruption of Facebook in Nauru, which has now entered its 20th month.

Since April 2015, the entire population of Nauru has been prevented from accessing Facebook. GNI is concerned about the significant and ongoing human rights and economic impacts on Nauruan citizens and residents caused by a disruption that was initially reported to be temporary in nature.

Government-mandated disruptions to internet services, such as the disruption of Facebook in Nauru, harm people’s communications with family and friends and restrict their ability to connect with information, businesses and services at home and overseas, undermining economic growth. Blocking access to the free flow of information infringes on internationally-recognized human rights.

“Government-ordered disruptions of communications networks and services are on the rise around the world,” said Mark Stephens, CBE, international human rights lawyer and Independent Board Chair of the Global Network Initiative. “The Government of Nauru should restore access to Facebook and commit to ensuring internet connectivity for all their citizens consistent with international human rights norms.”

“These disruptions raise special concerns for smaller nations and fragile economies that are denied important social, economic and development opportunities when their ability to connect with each other and with the global community is impaired,” Mr. Stephens said.

In a recent landmark resolution, the United Nations Human Rights Council stated that it “Condemns unequivocally measures to intentionally prevent or disrupt access to or dissemination of information online in violation of international human rights law.” The UN HRC specifically “calls on all States to refrain from and cease such measures.”

The GNI recently released a report, “The Economic Impact of Disruptions to Internet Connectivity,” highlighting the significant economic damage caused when countries deliberately shut down or otherwise disrupt connectivity.

For more on this issue, see the GNI and Telecommunications Industry Dialogue Joint Statement on Network and Service Shutdowns.

For further information or comment, please contact Kath Cummins, GNI Director of Communications: [email protected].