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.