As Ghana threatens to cut off social media during elections, human rights organizations rally to #KeepItOn globally
GLOBAL—Today Access Now, along with nearly 70 organizations from five continents, launched the #KeepitOn campaign to fight internet shutdowns worldwide. Other groups include Association for Progressive Communications, Digital Rights Foundation Pakistan, Human Rights Watch, Bytes for All, Electronic Frontier Foundation, iFreedom Uganda, Internews, Hivos, Arab World Internet Institute, Digital Rights Watch Australia, Bits of Freedom, La Quadrature du Net, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, and many more. The full list is available on the campaign website: https://www.accessnow.org/keepiton/
“It’s time to push back on this pernicious practice,” said Deji Olukotun, Senior Global Advocacy Manager at Access Now. “Shutdowns harm everyone and allow human rights crackdowns to happen in the dark, with impunity. Journalists can’t file their stories. Demonstrators and human rights defenders are abused by authorities and thrown in jail. Citizens can’t participate fully in democratic discourse during elections. Business is disrupted and people can’t access emergency services for themselves and their families. We need to join together to fight internet shutdowns of all forms.”
The #KeepitOn campaign aims to bring together stakeholders from across the globe, from governments to telcos to tech companies to everyday internet users. It began with the adoption of an international definition of internet shutdowns at RightsCon Silicon Valley and it continues today with the launch of a broad-based coalition and a call to action. Among other targets, the campaign will challenge service providers to fight back against government shutdown requests; highlight the use of shutdowns during elections; and build consensus at the U.N. and other intergovernmental organizations that people have a basic right to access information and speak freely online.
“Telecommunications providers and internet service providers have zero interest in cutting their users off from the global internet, yet they are repeatedly pressed to do so,” said Peter Micek, Global Policy and Legal Counsel at Access Now. “Growth and human rights rise in tandem when networks remain open and stable. Companies must band together to demand an end to shutdowns.”
The campaign website will feature a way for people around the world to securely and safely report shutdowns in order to gather critical information about how they’re being implemented and why.
The launch of #KeepitOn follows a recent shutdown in Iraq — the third in a month — to prevent cheating during school exams, as well as the recent announcement in Ghana that the police are considering blocking social media during upcoming elections in November 2016.
Last year, Access Now recorded at least 15 internet shutdowns around the world, and has already recorded 15 shutdowns in the first half of 2016.