IGF 2018 WS #403 Counting the Cost: Economic Effects of Internet Shutdowns

Format: 

Panel - 90 Min

Organizer 1: Eseohe Ojo, Media Rights Agenda
Organizer 2: Elizabeth Orembo, Kenya ICT Action Network
Organizer 3: Sumaworo Mory, International Islamic University Malaysia

Speaker 1: Eseohe Ojo, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 2: Elizabeth Orembo, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 3: Sumaworo Mory, Civil Society, African Group

Relevance: 

Internet shutdown is the act of disrupting regular internet connection. The shutdown could be targeted at the entire internet connection of a country, region, community or settlement. Other shutdowns may target applications (including mobile applications). From the Gambia to Uganda in Sub Saharan Africa, Bahrain in the Middle East, India and Pakistan in Asia and more recently, Montenegro in Europe, internet shutdowns are becoming a regular feature of the progress in information and communication technologies. By 2016, there have being over 50 internet shutdowns globally more than triple the recorded number in 2015.

Session Content: 

Internet shutdowns have enormous impact on various aspects of our living: economic, social and political. The political and social impact of these blackouts often receive comparatively more attention in the form of human rights violations. This framing of shutdowns although remains very significant hasn't been very successful. Recently, efforts have emerged to connect internet blackouts to economic costs. The Brooking Institution and Global Network Initiative have made a giant step forward by triggering a conversation on the economic effects of shutdowns. The Brooking Institution report indicated that up to USD2.4 billion have been lost in shutdowns between July 2015 and June 2016.

The argument on the economic effects of shutdowns is important and probably resonates well with a larger section of society than the human rights argument. However, most reports on the economic impact seems to focus on dry numbers/figure as well as complex economic models, making little or no reference to real life economic impact. This approach risk removing the debate from the ordinary populace, the very people who matter as the bear the brunt and final costs of shutdowns. Thus the focus of this session will be to complement the economic effects argument by bringing in real life economic experiences of the affected areas. We hope to add value to the conversation on the economic effects of shutdowns by providing a “people's perspective” on this increasingly important issue. This aspect will also draw the attention of future shutdowns researchers to a very important aspect and enrich the larger conversation on internet shutdowns everywhere.
Remote and on site contributions will be incorporated into the session. Panelists will engage audience through questions based on their experiences in their respective regions and welcome reactions. Remote participation will be enhanced via the event's main hashtag, #IGF2018, #KeepItOn. The panel will be moderated in a "morning show" style to enable as many engagements with the audience as possible while getting the best from the panelists.

Interventions: 

Measurements into the economic impacts of Internet/network shutdowns are just emerging, which is a welcomed development. And moving on, it important that we include very relevant aspects, such as the people's perspective. Hopefully the reflections of panelists and audiences will generate enough feedback to keep the conversation going and or provide a starting point for researchers to adapt. It is our aim to harness the proceedings of this session and indeed other relevant sessions to build a strategy/methodology to measure the economic effects of shutdowns on the masses, not just the GDP and income/expenditure of countries/corporations.

Diversity: 

Our panel is composed of academics, civil society activists, journalists, lawyers and researchers from 4 countries in different regions of Sub Saharan Africa. It is therefore a diverse team that will discuss internet shutdowns through an economic lens but based on different experiences.

Online Participation: 

Remote and on site contributions will be incorporated into the session. Panelists will engage audience through questions based on their experiences in their respective regions and welcome reactions. Remote participation will be enhanced via the event's main hashtag, #IGF2018, #KeepItOn. Remote participants will be given an opportunity to record and send videos in advance. The panel will be moderated in a "morning show" style to enable as many engagements with the audience as possible while getting the best from the panelists.

Discussion Facilitation: 

The panel will be moderated in a "morning show" style to enable as many engagements with the audience as possible while getting the best from the panelists.

Onsite Moderator: 

Demba Kandeh

Online Moderator: 

Abdoulie Jammeh

Rapporteur: 

Angela Minayo

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 678