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No. 208 Inclusive responses to intentional internet disruptions

Deniz Aydin

Access Now

1. Primary Contact Information

Ms. Deniz Aydin

Organizational Affiliation: Access Now

2. Secondary Contact Information

Mr. David Sullivan

Organizational Affiliation: Global Network Initiative

3. Workshop Format. Please click here for a description of available Workshop Session Formats.

Break-out group discussions

4. Panel format background paper

No background paper provided

5. Duration of proposed session

90 minutes

6. Title

Inclusive responses to intentional internet disruptions

7. Description of workshop

Intentional disruptions of internet and electronic communications -- also called internet shutdowns -- significantly impact the economy and free expression. Disruptions stifle sustainable growth and hamper inclusivity by cutting off marginalized voices, serving as an early warning mechanism of human rights violations. Conservative estimates of a recent shutdown indicated losses as much as $25 million per day for the disruption to mobile banking services alone.

Largely ordered by government ICT ministries, internet shutdowns are defined as 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. At other times, application-specific shutdowns are ordered by public officials – judges, for instance – in order to impose sanctions on a specific company, unaware of the disproportionality of such a measure.

Access Now documented nearly 20 shutdowns in 2015 and over 15 in the first half of 2016, including in South Asia, North America, Asia-Pacific, Central Asia, and MENA.

Access to the internet and communications technologies is essential to ensure sustainable and inclusive growth. When services are disrupted, the ICT economy is significantly impacted by these government orders. A concerted, organized response as well as norm building is necessary to address this challenge in order to promote the internet as a platform for achieving the sustainable development goals. The rise of shutdowns is especially troubling given our increasing reliance upon internet connectivity to enjoy basic human rights and document their abuses.

8. Tags

Tag1: Freedom of Expression Online

Tag2: Internet Economy

Tag3: Multistakeholder Cooperation

9. Name, stakeholder group, and organizational affiliation of workshop proposal co-organizer(s)

Deniz Duru Aydin, Civil Society, Access Now
David Sullivan, multistakeholder, Global Network Initiative
Andreas Rentlow, Civil Society, International Media Support

10. Has the proposer, or any of the co-organizers, organized an IGF workshop before?

yes

The link to the workshop report

http://www.intgovforum.org/cms/wks2014/index.php/proposal/view_public/188; http://www.intgovforum.org/cms/wks2013/report_view.php?xpsltipq_je=88

11. Description of the plan to facilitate discussion amongst speakers, audience members and remote participants

The session will begin with a short (10 minute) overview of the topic and introduction to each of the participants in the room. We will then break into four groups, led by discussion leaders, to address particular problems.

1) Technical considerations. How do service interruptions take place? Who are the key players, and how can companies document orders, minimize impacts, and communicate with the public in these circumstances?

2) Elections and shutdowns. This group will explore the trend of service shutdowns tied to elections and other moments of political importance. What are patterns in methods of service restrictions? How does the international human rights law framework address this phenomena? How has civil society responded to interruptions?

3) Economic impacts. What are the economic costs of interruptions, for example, disruptions to individuals and businesses, as well as to network operators? How does this impact countries that are highly reliant on mobile banking and digital economy services?

4) Remedy. When interruptions take place, what are the roles and responsibilities of governments and companies to provide effective access to remedy? This breakout will explore company grievance mechanisms, national regulations, independent oversight mechanisms, and the experience of affected communities to develop recommendations on remedy.

The structure for each breakout group will be:
- Identifying scope of the problem (15 minutes)
- Identifying potential solutions to push back against shutdowns; (35 minutes)
- Recording agreements or next steps (10 minutes)
- All groups will then reconvene in a plenary to discuss and compare solutions (20 minutes)

12. Proposed Speakers

Hiselius, Patrick
Pietikainen, Milka
Al Masri, Reem
Duru Aydin, Deniz
Al Masri, Reem
Ahmad, Shahzad
Chakchouk, Moez
Ming, Sze
O’Connell, Andy
Gharbeia, Ahmad
Lichtenberg, Judith
Alford, Gigi
Aydin, Deniz Duru
Aaronson, Susan
Doneda, Danilo
Olukotun, Deji

Speakers provisionally confirmed:

Aaronson, Susan
Ahmad, Shahzad
Doneda, Danilo
Duru Aydin, Deniz
Gharbeia, Ahmad
Hiselius, Patrick
Lichtenberg, Judith
Ming, Sze
O’Connell, Andy
Pietikainen, Milka

13. Reasons for Speakers and/or description of how stakeholder views will be represented

We strived to include proposed participants from each stakeholder group involved in internet shutdowns so as to best arrive at solutions. As intentional internet disruptions occur in diverse locations around the world, our listed participants represent some of the key regions that witness the majority of internet shutdowns. The breakout style format of the session will allow our listed participants to help start and develop discussion in each group, inviting other participants representing the key stakeholder groups to engage with each other. Civil society and media will be represented by multiple organizations that have either been directly affected by internet shutdowns, or that have been actively monitoring disruptions around the world. Private sector and government participants will be present to represent the commercial interests at stake, and the position of regulators issuing shutdown requests.

14. Name of in-person Moderator(s)

Shahzad Ahmad, civil society, Bytes4All, Pakistan

15. Name of Remote Moderator(s)

Nick Dagostino, civil society, Access Now, Canada

16. Name of Rapporteur(s)

Deniz Duru Aydin

17. Description of the proposer's plans for remote participation

In the lead up to the conference, we plan on connecting with the organizers of IGF remote hubs located in countries that have been affected by intentional internet disruptions, asking for their experiences during such shutdowns, and using the responses to form part of the session’s discussions. During the session, we’ll be calling on remote hubs to highlight their experiences during a specific disruption, calling on session participants (in person and remote) to workshop solutions.

In addition, the remote moderator will be sourcing questions from Twitter and Slido using the hashtag #KeepItOnIGF, and asking them to the relevant breakout group discussion leaders. Using a roaming device, the remote moderator will also be able to allow remote participants to speak directly to session participants.

18. Based on which Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

Sustainable development goals #9 and #17. #9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation. #17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

19. Background paper

No additional background paper provided

20. Agenda

1. The session will begin with a short (10 minute) overview of the topic and introduction to each of the participants in the room. We will then break into four groups, led by discussion leaders, to address particular problems. At each breakout group, we will include a laptop computer to enable remote participation on WebEx, and we will designate one person to moderate online participation.

2. Breakout Groups (35 minutes each): (a) technical considerations; (b) elections and shutdowns; (c) economic impact; (d) remedy.

3. Recording agreements or next steps (10 minutes)

4. All groups will then reconvene in a plenary to discuss and compare solutions (20 minutes)

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