ICT companies face an increasing number of orders from governments around the world seeking to restrict access to services and disrupt networks. These blunt orders often occur during politically charged contexts, such as protests or elections, making non-compliance challenging and increasing their likely human rights impacts.

GNI believes such drastic measures almost always violate the principles of proportionality and necessity, and our framework helps companies push for greater transparency and accountability around such activities. Given the impacts that disruptions have on telecommunications and internet companies, as well as on media freedom and human rights, GNI provides an important forum for fostering collaboration across key constituencies on this troubling trend.

GNI’s positions on network disruptions are outlined in our seminal, 2016 statement on network restrictions. Building off of this statement, GNI has developed a one-page guide for policymakers on network disruptions – now available in ten languages – which highlights the wide variety of harms that such disruptions can cause to human rights, economic activity, public safety and emergency services, among others. GNI also released an important report in October 2016 titled, “The Economic Impact of Disruptions to Internet Connectivity,” which sets out a framework for measuring the costs of shutdowns in terms of the daily gross domestic product lost in countries with varying levels of Internet connectivity.

New Report! Life Interrupted: Centering the Social Impacts of Network Disruptions in Advocacy in Africa

March 31, 2021|feature, Issues, issues highlight, media releases, network disruptions, Publication, reports|

Authored by Tomiwa Ilori of the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, the report surveys experts and practitioners from eleven countries in Africa where the Internet was disrupted for 1144 days total between 2011 and 2020.

GNI Statement of Concern on Proposed Cybersecurity Law in Myanmar

February 12, 2021|feature, intermediary liability, Issues, issues highlight, media releases, network disruptions, surveillance|

Given the severe social, economic, and human rights consequences that the draft cybersecurity law is likely to have on both users and companies inside the country, GNI calls on the Myanmar military to withdraw and reconsider the law.

Concerns About Network Disruptions and Restrictions on Freedom of Expression in Myanmar

February 9, 2021|feature, intermediary liability, network disruptions|

We call on government authorities in Myanmar to immediately restore full network connectivity, reverse orders blocking social media sites, and refrain from issuing further orders or putting pressure on internet and telecommunications companies that contravene the country’s international human rights law commitments, including the freedom of opinion and expression and privacy.

Statement: Internet Shutdowns in Uganda Erode Citizens’ Enjoyment of Basic Human Rights

February 5, 2021|feature, issues highlight, network disruptions|

After the Internet was shut down ahead of the Jan 14 general elections in Uganda, ongoing disruptions targeting digital communications platforms continue, proving detrimental to information access and daily livelihoods, in addition to social, economic, educational, and political engagement. We encourage the government to restore access immediately.

GNI Letter to UN Special Rapporteur Irene Khan: Restrictions on Freedom of Expression in Myanmar

October 30, 2020|feature, intermediary liability, Issues, issues highlight, Letter, media releases, network disruptions|

In a letter to UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression Irene Khan, GNI raises concerns about ongoing restrictions on digital communications in Myanmar, including network disruptions, website blocking, and efforts by governmental actors to manipulate social media platforms.

Op-Ed: Five Ways Telecommunications Companies Can Fight Internet Shutdowns

August 26, 2020|feature, network disruptions, op-eds|

Digital rights advocates have sometimes seen companies as adversaries when they cooperate with orders to limit or shut off services. But new research demonstrates a set of practical steps companies caught between these competing pressures can take to uphold their responsibilities and work together with advocates to discourage government disruption orders.

GNI Statement on Network Disruptions in the Pandemic Context

May 3, 2020|feature, Issues, issues highlight, media releases, network disruptions|

The risks of government-mandated network disruptions for human rights, media freedom, economic activity and development, and security are more acute during the ongoing pandemic. To lessen the negative impacts of the novel coronavirus, ensure the public’s access to information, and facilitate the development and application of new, constructive, and inclusive solutions, it is important to understand how government-mandated network disruptions intentional degradation of access can undermine these goals.

GNI Statement on Ongoing Information and Communications Disruptions in India

December 24, 2019|feature, issues highlight, media releases, network disruptions|

GNI is deeply concerned about reports of network disruptions across India, including in New Delhi, amid mass protests. GNI urges the government to consider its international commitments to freedom of expression and the risks disruptions pose for public safety, health and emergency services, the economy, and the news media.

Enhancing Understanding of Legal Trends Impacting Freedom of Expression and Privacy in the ICT Sector

September 19, 2019|feature, issues highlight, network disruptions, surveillance|

The new and improved GNI Country Legal Frameworks Resource (CLFR) is Live! The CLFR centralizes and facilitates search and comparison across a repository of more than 50 country-specific reports on governments' authorities to access user data or restrict communications.
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