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Technology for Democracy Cohort: Championing Digital Democracy for All

Picture of Susannah Gray
Director Communications, Internet Society
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March 30, 2023

The number of Internet shutdowns has increased at an alarming rate over the past few years, more than doubling since 2016.

At the second Summit for Democracy, the Technology for Democracy Cohort co-leads Estonia, the United Kingdom, and Access Now, in collaboration with New America, Accountability Lab, Open Data Charter, the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research Lab, and Internet Society, will highlight this concerning rise in Internet shutdowns, disruptions and restrictions around the world during the Championing Digital Democracy for All session on 30 March, 2023.

An Internet shutdown is an intentional disruption of Internet or electronic communications, rendering them inaccessible or effectively unusable, for a specific population or within a location, often to exert control over the flow of information.

Authorities impose Internet shutdowns for a multitude of reasons, including during protests, school exams, elections, political unrest, conflict, or natural disasters.

Devastating Effect

Internet shutdowns have a devastating effect on the economy, the global Internet infrastructure, the media’s ability to document ongoing events, on human rights, and on democratic processes. They hinder people’s ability to share information, contact loved ones, access information, and online banking, healthcare and education services. And they undermine users’ trust in the Internet and the reliability of critical online government services. Blocking access to vital means of communication during times of disaster and civil unrest only serves to fuel panic and misinformation and hampers the work of emergency services.

Joining Forces

It is vital that civil society, states, and industry to work together to protect an open, globally connected, secure, and trustworthy Internet to ensure that the far-reaching consequences of Internet shutdowns are recognized.

As part of the Technology for Democracy Cohort’s build up to the Summit, the Internet Society partnered with the Technology for Democracy Cohort to further develop the Internet Society Pulse Shutdowns Tracker so that everyone can get clear, up-to-date data about where Internet shutdowns are happening, why and when, and access the information they need to advocate against shutdowns wherever they are.

Read Internet Society’s Policy Brief on Internet Shutdowns.

Photo by Alice Donovan Rouse on Unsplash