Tuesday, 3 October 2017

The Consequences of Internet Shutdowns

You might have seen the hashtag #KeepItOn across various social media platforms, but perhaps you don't quite grasp the severity of the problem it addresses. The hashtag was started by Access Now to bring awareness about an oft used tactic by regimes to control the online behavior of their citizens, the internet shutdown.

The excuses range anywhere from "to prevent students from cheating on exams" to "to prevent violent protests," but whatever the excuse, it is always a form of oppression.

Whether governments are blocking specific websites or shutting down the entire internet, the economic consequences are severe. The problem is particularly severe among African governments. In 2016 alone, 11 African countries disrupted internet communications. Since 2015, these interruptions have cost $235 million, according to a recent study conducted by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA). This at a time when the internet is making a significant contribution to the growth in GDP in many African countries.

You can get involved by visiting Access Now's #KeepItOn website. This shortsighted and undemocratic tactic must end.

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