Internet shutdowns hurt much more than we realize: UN rights office

What is the News?

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has released a report titled “Internet shutdowns: Trends, causes, legal implications and impacts on a range of human rights.”

What are the key findings of the report?

Internet Shutdowns: Internet shutdowns are measures taken by a government or on behalf of a government, to intentionally disrupt access to and the use of information and communications systems online.

The shutdowns are often ordered during civil society movements, security measures as well as electoral proceedings.

History of Internet Shutdowns: The first major internet shutdown that captured global attention took place in Egypt in 2011 and was accompanied by hundreds of arrests and killings.

The #KeepItOn coalition which monitors internet shutdown episodes across the world documented 931 shutdowns in 74 countries from 2016-2021.

The majority of these shutdowns have been reported from Asia and Africa.

Moreover, almost half of all shutdowns recorded by civil society groups from 2016-2021 were carried out in the context of protests and political crisis

Internet Shutdowns in India: According to the report by digital right advocacy group Access Now, India blocked or disrupted internet connections 106 times and at least 85 of India’s internet shutdown episodes were in Jammu & Kashmir.

Economic Impact of Internet Shutdowns: Internet shutdowns carry major economic costs for all sectors, disrupting financial transactions, commerce and industry.

For instance, the World Bank recently calculated that Internet shutdowns in Myanmar alone had cost nearly $2.8 billion from February-December 2021 reversing economic progress made over the previous decade.

What are the suggestions given by the report?

The report urged states to refrain from imposing shutdowns, to maximize Internet access and remove the multiple obstacles standing in the way of communication.

It also called upon companies to speedily share information on disruptions and ensure that they take all possible lawful measures to prevent shutdowns they have been asked to implement.

Source: The post is based on the article “Internet shutdowns hurt much more than we realize: UN rights office” published in Down To Earth on 28th June 2022

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