IGF 2023 WS #435 Gains, Perils and Shields in Fighting Internet Shutdowns


Human Rights & Freedoms
Internet Shutdowns

Organizer 1: Thobekile Matimbe, Paradigm Initiative
Organizer 2: Felicia Anthonio, 🔒Access Now
Organizer 3: Ihueze Nwobilor, Paradigm Initiative

Speaker 1: Felicia Anthonio, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Thobekile Matimbe, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 3: Arzu Kurtulus, Civil Society, Eastern European Group
Speaker 4: Andrew Gole, Civil Society, African Group


Felicia Anthonio, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator

Ihueze Nwobilor, Civil Society, African Group


Felicia Anthonio, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Panel - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

A. How can national and international laws be strengthened to offer adequate protections for digital rights defenders advocating against internet shutdowns and censorship?
B. What role can the National Human Rights Institutions and the private sector play in averting Internet Shutdowns?

What will participants gain from attending this session? Participants gain a safe space to present their challenges, and learn from the experiences of panellists and other participants on solutions. Digital security tools will be shared with panellists, and strategies will be shared to form part of a manual that will be developed beyond the session for activists to use in the fqace of Internet shutdowns and censorship. The information will focus on the threats faced and enhance an understanding of the strategies used in diverse contexts. A digital security toolkit, Ayeta (https://paradigmhq.org/programs/digital-rights/ayeta/) and the KeepItOn Coalition (https://www.accessnow.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/2022-KIO-Report-fi…) will be resources shared with participants as key takeaways from the session. The tools elaborate the threats in the form of Internet shutdowns and the incidence which necessitates a manual for actors to be more equipped in addressing threats.



The fight against internet shutdowns can be dangerous in itself. Activists, human rights defenders and other actors tend to face real-life threats, dangers and risks in their efforts to advocate against societal injustices. Some have devised mechanisms to remain safe through experience and become resilient in the fight. This dialogue seeks to open up discussion about the challenges and risks activists face in mobilizing people and communities, raising awareness and speaking up about shutdowns to demanding accountability from authorities. From Zimbabwe, India, and Myanmar to Tajikistan, we will have an honest conversation about the real threats activists face on the ground and what avenues there are to protect them or enable them to carry out their activism safely. Speakers will be drawn from the #KeepItOn community to share their experiences in the fight against internet shutdowns since 2016, including frontline activists, journalists and human rights defenders. Most importantly, speakers will share the strategies they have adopted over the years to ensure that the people they defend and fight for are safe. A digital security expert will provide solutions and guidance to speakers and participants about navigating the threats highlighted in the session.

Expected Outcomes

1. To equip activists and human rights defenders with digital security skills and precautions to be undertaken in fighting against Internet shutdowns
2. To produce a manual/guide for activists and advocates against internet shutdowns to address the challenges and threats they face in their work

Hybrid Format: 1. The session will be moderated by an alert moderator cognisant of comments both online and online and be able to ensure timely responses are made during the interactive sessions.
2. A Google document will be shared to capture strategies from online attendees to ensure all contributions are considered while an online moderator will capture information both offline and online to consolidate strategies.
3. One panellist will join virtually, and a hybrid format will be adopted to ensure interactions between online and offline panellists is seamless.