#KeepItOn Summit at RightsCon Brussels – Program and Schedule

Internet shutdowns pose a rising threat to human rights and innovation around the globe. Justified by governments for a variety of pretexts, shutdowns harm free expression and drain billions from the global economy. In 2016, more than 25 countries issued 56 shutdowns, some of them repeat offenders. Intentional disruptions of networks are complex, affecting telecommunications providers, ISPs, policy makers, internet companies, and end users. This complexity demands creative solutions from a variety of stakeholders.

Read the outcome report here (PDF).

The #KeepItOn Summit at RightsCon Brussels (March 29-31) — the first dedicated convening in the world to explore internet shutdowns — was a special 3-day track that aimed to produce real-world outcomes. The internet community already has made great strides in pushing back against internet shutdowns through the #KeepItOn campaign. The United Nations Human Rights Council unequivocally condemned internet shutdowns in June 2016. The multistakeholder organization Global Network Initiative — which includes companies such as Google, Facebook, and Microsoft — has also spoken out against the practice. The GSMA, one of the largest technology associations in the world, issued strict guidelines, and two major economic studies by Deloitte and the Brookings Institution have shed light on the terrible cost of disruptions to societies. But there is much more to be done, and the #KeepitOn Summit helped chart a new path in the effort to end disruptions.

Program: the #KeepItOn Summit

Summit chair: Deji Bryce Olukotun (Access Now), [email protected]

Day 1 – Wednesday, March 29

Everything we know about internet shutdowns

Government-ordered internet shutdowns nearly tripled in number between 2015 and 2016, harming human rights and economies worldwide. This session will offer a crash course in internet shutdowns with a global perspective, mapping out their causes and impacts; emerging trends; hotspots; new research on circumvention and economics; and who is fighting back to stop them. We’ll end by explaining exactly how a shutdown occurs and map out the key stakeholders involved in the process.

Time: 12-1:15pm | Location: Palace Ballroom I | Video  

with: Ron Deibert (Citizen Lab), Raman Jit Singh Chima (Access Now), Rebecca Mackinnon (Ranking Digital Rights), Doug Madory (Dyn Research), Julie Owono (Internet Without Borders)

What’s an internet shutdown like? Experiences of disruptions and how to circumvent them

Internet shutdowns impact real lives in often devastating ways. In this session, we’ll feature testimonies by people who have experienced shutdowns — and also how they have tried to circumvent them. The session will conclude by looking at the latest tools for circumvention, including what works and how they can be improved.

Time: 2:30-3:45p | Location: Serenity

with: Saikou Camara (Your Change for a Change), Mariengracia Chirinos (Institute for Press and Society / Instituto Prensa y Sociedad de Venezuela), Karl Kathuria (Psiphon), Giorgi Kldiashvili (Institute for Development of Freedom of Information), Ritu Srivastava (Digital Empowerment Foundation)

Advances in measuring internet shutdowns

A central challenge of fighting internet shutdowns is knowing when and where they occur. Some shutdowns can be detected inside international borders, while at other times even tech companies don’t know whether the internet is available. This session will look at innovative approaches to measuring disruptions by both public and private sector actors.

Time: 5:15-6:15p | Location: Serenity

with: Gustaf Björksten (Access Now), Mishi Choudhary (Software Freedom Law Centre), Arturo Filastó (OONI), Doug Madory (Dyn Research), Alp Toker (Turkey Blocks), Maria Xynou (OONI)

Day 2 – Thursday, March 30

Just added! What’s the role of private actors? Preview of special report to the UN Human Rights Council

How should companies combat internet shutdowns and excessive government surveillance, and create a free and open internet for all? In June 2016, the Human Rights Council unequivocally condemned network disruptions among member states, but there are a variety of stakeholders involved in each shutdown. This special preview of a forthcoming report by a UN expert will assess the roles and responsibilities of private actors engaged in the provision of internet and telecommunications access around the world.

Time: 8:00-9:00a | Location: Klimt

with: David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression

At what cost? Telecoms and internet companies discuss internet shutdowns

Technology and telecommunications companies sit at the very center of the internet shutdown crisis as governments order them to shut off the internet on a variety of pretexts. These decisions often have drastic economic impacts, which Deloitte, the Global Network Initiative, and the Brookings Institution have analyzed through groundbreaking studies. In this session, leading companies will join together to discuss internet shutdowns, including their efforts to push back against them.

Time: 9:00-10:15a | Location: Klimt

with: Chinmayi Arun (National Law Centre of New Delhi), Faten Busehri (Bahrain Watch), Bennett Freeman (Global Network Initiative), Yves Nissim (Orange), Alex Warofka (Facebook)

Regional fights against internet shutdowns – breakouts!

Internet shutdowns harm human rights and economies all over the globe, but they come in different forms, ranging from long-term nationwide disruptions to app blocking to “internet curfews” that impact small neighborhoods. This variation requires localized strategies. We’ll breakout into groups to hone in on effective strategies.

Time: 4:00-5:00pm | Location: Serenity

with: Adeboye Adegoke (Paradigm Initiative Nigeria), Apar Gupta (Internet Freedom Foundation), Trinh Nguyen (Viet Tan), Javier Pallero (Access Now)

Day 3 – Friday, March 31

Freedom Online Coalition: Multilateral Approaches to Network Disruptions

While more than 25 governments ordered internet shutdowns last year, other governments and bodies such as the UN and African Union are pushing back. We’ll hear from members of the Freedom Online Coalition, a collection of 30 governments supporting free expression.

Time: 10:30-11:45am | Location: Palace Ballroom I | Video 

with: Joost Bunk (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Netherlands), Mishi Choudhary (Software Freedom Law Centre), Fadzai Madzingira (Facebook), Jason Pielemeier (U.S. Department of State), Andrew Pudephatt (Global Partners Digital)

Better ways to document internet shutdowns

The wide array of stakeholders involved in internet shutdowns — telcos, tech companies, end users, and governments — makes documenting them extremely complex. It’s often a case of each person feeling a piece of the elephant but not being able to identify the whole animal. But if we don’t know how many disruptions happen, and where, it’s difficult to take action to stop them. In this session, we’ll look at new research on how we can better document shutdowns, and proposed solutions.

Time: 2:30-3:45pm | Location: Harmony

with: Collin Anderson (Measurement Lab), Georgia Bullen (Open Technology Institute), Enrique Piracés (Carnegie Mellon),  Seamus Tuohy (Prudent Innovation), Liz Woolery (Open Technology Institute)

The laws and agreements we want on internet shutdowns

Internet shutdowns are enabled by a patchwork of outdated, vague, or repressive laws worldwide. Telecommunications companies are also bound by restrictive license agreements that require them to disrupt networks when governments order them to. In this session, we’ll look at the bad laws and licenses that enable shutdowns and identify better laws and agreements so we can end this practice.

Time: 4:00-5:00pm | Location: Serenity

with: Moses Karanja (Strathmore University), Peter Micek (Access Now), Alp Toker (Turkey Blocks)


Thank you to our sponsors of the #KeepItOn Summit


The #KeepItOn Summit is a special track at RightsCon Brussels and does not require a separate registration fee.

Deji Bryce Olukotun, Senior Global Advocacy Manager, Access Now [email protected]