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

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

December 10, 2016

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.

Speakers:

  • 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.

Elections

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.

Challenges:

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

Solutions:

  • 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.

Challenges:

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

Solutions:

  • 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.

Challenges:

  • 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.

Solutions:

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