Session: Human Rights Online
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The session of inclusive responses to intentional internet introduced the issue related to intentional disruptions of internet and electronic communications which is about the internet shutdowns and its consequences as online human rights violations.
The moderator Mr Deji Olukotun, Senior Global Advocacy Manager, Access Now, gave a brief summary on internet shutdowns where many countries are impacted and thousands of people around the world are calling governments to stop the intentional disruptions of Internet and electronic communications.
Ms Judith Lichtenberg, Global Network Initiative, said that the global Internet community experienced many cases of shutdowns in many countries around the world like the Internet shutdown in Egypt during the Arab spring revolution in 2011. She asked how the international community should act to prevent such government violations of Internet openness and the rights of access. She said that the solution is in the hands of the international community which requires a sustainable multistakeholder engagement. The solution includes training programs on Internet governance and awareness events for the governments and their technical agencies. She added that telecommunications companies and service providers are operating with many jurisdiction challenges to prevent Internet shutdown by the governments,
A remote speaker from the US said that the US government is condemning any Internet shutdown as part of its strategy on cybersecurity, its main objectives to maintain an Internet open, free and independent from any political conflict. She added that these internet violations need more assessment and analysis in order to understand why government actions violate international human rights obligations. While the US condemns such internet rights violations it is important to focus on the economic consequences and negatives results of the intentional disruptions of internet and electronic communications.
Mr Kenneth Andu Amofu, from Ghana, spoke about his experience with the government’s decision of shutting down the Internet during the election period. He spoke about the big social movement which has been organised against the government’s decision and how the minister of telecommunication in Ghana intervened under public pressure to cancel this. He concluded that preventing any government in Africa or in any part of the world from shutting down the Internet can only done through an open economic dialogue. The private sector, civil society and academic researchers should unify to convince government officials that the Internet should remain open, free, and accessible under any economic or political circumstances.
Mr Andy O’Connell, from the US, stressed the important role of the international community to establish an effective mechanism to stop the internet shutdown. He also added that the international community needs to give more focus on the economic damages and negative consequences of Internet shutdowns on the country’s economy. Such bad economic results can be used to put more pressure on governments.
During the open discussion, most attendees spoke about the importance of the communities contribution including all stakeholders to stop Internet shutdowns.
by Hafedh Al Yahmadi, Internet Society Tunisia