Network Disruptions

ICT companies face an increasing number of orders from governments around the world seeking to restrict access to services and disrupt networks. These blunt orders often occur during politically charged contexts, such as protests or elections, making non-compliance challenging and increasing their likely human rights impacts.

GNI believes such drastic measures almost always violate the principles of proportionality and necessity, and our framework helps companies push for greater transparency and accountability around such activities.

GNI’s positions on network disruptions are outlined in our seminal, 2016 statement on network restrictions. Building off of this statement, GNI has developed a one-page guide for policymakers on network disruptions – now available in twelve languages – which highlights the wide variety of harms that such disruptions can cause to human rights, economic activity, public safety and emergency services, among others. These concerns have only become more acute in the context of the pandemic, as emphasized in a 2020 statement. GNI has commissioned or otherwise released a series of research reports on the impacts of network disruptions. The report “The Economic Impact of Disruptions to Internet Connectivity,” from October 2016, sets out a framework for measuring the costs of shutdowns in terms of the daily gross domestic product lost in countries with varying levels of Internet connectivity. In “Disconnected: A Human Rights-Based Approach to Network Disruptions,” Jan Rydzak documented the full range of human rights impacts of network disruptions, in particular for vulnerable groups. In “Life Interrupted: Centering the Social Impacts of Network Disruptions in Advocacy in Africa,” Tomiwa Ilori interviewed victims of over 1144 days of network disruption in 11 African countries from 2011–2020, which informed his recommendations for advocacy strategies tailored to the region.

GNI Statement on Government Efforts to Ban Digital Communications Platforms

February 22, 2023|feature, intermediary liability, Issues, issues highlight, media releases, network disruptions|

GNI is troubled by recent efforts by democratic states to completely ban the use of digital communications platforms, which pose significant human rights risks and are likely to have global ramifications. When governments have legitimate concerns about the impacts and conduct of digital platforms...Read more.

GNI Condemns Protest Violence, Internet Restrictions in Iran

October 3, 2022|feature, Issues, issues highlight, network disruptions|

GNI condemns the Iranian government’s apparent efforts to stifle freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, including through disruption of information and communication technologies. We call on the government to lift restrictions and censorship measures in online and offline spaces.

The Global Network Initiative Welcomes the “Declaration for the Future of the Internet”

April 29, 2022|feature, intermediary liability, Issues, issues highlight, media releases, network disruptions, surveillance|

GNI welcomes the recent Declaration for the Future of the Internet, in particular the centrality of human rights and the emphasis placed on multistakeholder approaches. As a multistakeholder organization that has been working for over a dozen years to protect digital rights, GNI looks forward to continuing to engage with signatories and stakeholders, and will work to hold signatory nations to the principles laid out in this Declaration. Read more for the full statement.

GNI Statement on Protecting and Respecting Freedom of Expression and Privacy in the Context of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

March 18, 2022|feature, intermediary liability, Issues, issues highlight, media releases, network disruptions, News|

GNI joins the broader global community in expressing shock, opprobrium, and deep dismay about the unjustified Russian invasion of Ukraine. In addition to the physical attacks being perpetrated against Ukraine, the Russian government has taken active steps to undermine and restrict access to accurate information in Ukraine and Russia, as well as spreading disinformation and propaganda. GNI condemns all violations of the rights to freedom of expression unequivocally. Read more in our full statement.

New Report! Life Interrupted: Centering the Social Impacts of Network Disruptions in Advocacy in Africa

March 31, 2021|feature, Issues, issues highlight, media releases, network disruptions, Publication, reports|

Authored by Tomiwa Ilori of the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, the report surveys experts and practitioners from eleven countries in Africa where the Internet was disrupted for 1144 days total between 2011 and 2020.

GNI Statement of Concern on Proposed Cybersecurity Law in Myanmar

February 12, 2021|feature, intermediary liability, Issues, issues highlight, media releases, network disruptions, surveillance|

Given the severe social, economic, and human rights consequences that the draft cybersecurity law is likely to have on both users and companies inside the country, GNI calls on the Myanmar military to withdraw and reconsider the law.