IGF 2020 WS #320 Can we create a shutdown resilient internet infrastructure?


Organizer 1: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 2: Technical Community, African Group

Speaker 1: Hija Kamran, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Kudakwashe Hove, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Kwaku Antwi, Civil Society, African Group


Birds of a Feather - Classroom - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

What’s the implication of these sorts of disruptions on the integrity of the internet infrastructure? Can internet protocols be designed to be resilient against internet shutdowns? This session will explore how internet shutdowns and censorship measures affect the integrity of infrastructure we all depend on every day and how technicalities around protocol design could shape the internet into a rights-respecting landscape for all.

The session will look at the issue of internet shutdowns and how governments across the globe are devising innovative tactics to control it at the national levels. The session will go further to analyse the impact of internet shutdowns on human rights with first-hand experiences being shared by persons who have been victims of internet shutdowns. Inasmuch as internet shutdowns are on the increase, there are countries that are committed to ensuring that the internet is protected and projected as a basic source of opportunity for growth and development. Some of these governments who are members of the Freedom Online Coalition continue to push for an open, free and secure internet ecosystem for all irrespective of their race, sexual orientations, gender or geographical location. There has been increased awareness about internet shutdowns around the world and increasingly, stakeholders are becoming champions against shutdowns as they have proven to do nothing but violate the rights of people.


GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure


Internet shutdowns continue to cause havoc globally with governments becoming more innovative in shutting down digital platforms. The government of India first shutdown the internet for about five months and later slowed down internet access to 2G making connectivity almost impossible; In 2019, Nicolas Maduro’s government ordered the state-owned CANTV and dominant internet service provider to block social media and streaming services to prevent people from listening to Juan Guaidó’s speeches. These are just a few of the 213 instances of internet shutdowns that were recorded in 2019. The session will bring together stakeholders from government, technical community, private sector, civil society, academia, and the general public to have an open discussion about how to work collaboratively to ensure that people are free to exercise their rights online without any restriction or interference from government or any other perpetrator. It will also explore the use of Speakers will be drawn from people who have been affected by these shutdowns to give a first-hand account of how these restrictions impacted their lives and work.

Expected Outcomes

The outcomes of this session will be put together into advocacy materials such as blog post and statements which will be widely publicised. The recommendations or concerns raised will be documented and submitted to the governments of the various countries for action. These outcomes will also guide the planning of future campaigns by the KeepItOn coalition: https://www.accessnow.org/keepiton/.

Speakers will be allotted 10 minutes each to make their submission and then open up the discussion for the audience to engage in the discussion. The moderator will ensure that speakers respect the time and the last 15 minutes will be set aside for curating recommendations and next steps.

Relevance to Internet Governance: Internet shutdowns violate human rights, destroy economies and disrupt the daily activities of people. It is therefore important to consider a multi-stakeholder approach in addressing issues of internet shutdown across the globe and coming up with policies that ensure that people from all walls of the globe have access to free, open and secure internet access at all times.

Relevance to Theme: This sessions seeks to explore how the internet infrastructure will become resilient to shutdowns that have proven to have dire consequences for the enjoyment of human rights as well as the economy. A resilient internet infrastructure will mean governments will no longer have the power to decide when to 'kill the switch', thus rebuilding people's trust in the internet as a basic infrastructure for sustainable growth and development

Online Participation


Usage of IGF Official Tool.