Fighting Internet Shutdowns

Internet shutdowns pose a threat to human rights around the world. An internet shutdown is 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. Frequently, government officials order companies to cut off people’s access to communications tools during times of social unrest, public protest, political upheaval, or times of conflict. Unfortunately, companies nearly always comply with government requests.


You can’t imagine how hard it was, not being able to have access to the internet and some mobile services. I was sometimes obliged to cross the border to Rwanda to check my emails and to send out some tweets about the current situation.

— Arsène Tungali, Journalist


15 documented internet shutdowns around the world in 2015 


U.N. officials declared in 2015 that internet kill switches can never be justified during conflict under international law, in the Joint Declaration on Freedom of Expression and Responses to Conflict Situations. The U.N. also included universal internet access and connectivity in the Sustainable Development Goals, recognizing the importance of stable and secure internet access to development, especially for small business owners dependent on mobile money services.



We are here to help

Access Now has the tools to equip you to prevent and mitigate these blanket bans on communications. Our Telco Action Plan and Telco Remedy Plan provide clear guidelines for telcos on how best to combat internet shutdowns. Our Digital Security Helpline is a free of charge resource for civil society around the world. We offer real-time, direct technical assistance, including advice on how to circumvent blocking, to activists, independent media, and civil society organizations.


What you can do

  • Join our #KeepItOn campaign, download and remix our Visuals Kit with #KeepitOn graphics, and spread the word
  • Document any evidence of a shutdown, such as through screenshots of 404 pages or official announcements
  • Develop contingency plans and alternative access points in case you cannot rely on the internet
  • Contact our 24 hour Digital Security Helpline
  • Tell governments and carriers that shutdowns violate your human rights!



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Deji Olukotun, Senior Global Advocacy Manager [email protected]Peter Micek, Global Policy and Legal Counsel [email protected]