What is an internet shutdown?

An internet shutdown happens when someone — usually a government — intentionally disrupts the internet or mobile apps to control what people say or do. Shutdowns are also sometimes called “blackouts” or “kill switches.” Here’s a more technical definition developed by experts: “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.”

The internet enables all our human rights, and we need our leaders to pledge to #KeepitOn.

Why is this a problem?

Internet shutdowns pose a threat to human rights around the world. They harm everyone: businesses, emergency services, journalism, human rights defenders, and demonstrators. They don’t help victims or restore order. Even worse, the number of internet shutdowns is dramatically increasing around the world, according to our new Shutdown Tracker Optimization Project (STOP).

  • I had to make a four-hour round trip to a neighbouring region every time I wanted to send radio reports to my editors.

    — Frederic Takang, BBC News, Cameroon
  • When our mobile connection was finally restored, we learned that eight people had been killed in the last few hours.

    — Journalist, Kashmir, India
  • You cannot imagine how hard it was, not being able to have access to Internet and to 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, Democratic Republic of Congo
  • As a journalist I have not been able to work for the whole time of the shutdown. I struggle to travel a long way to regions with internet, where I find myself now.

    — Kingsley Fomunyuy Njoka, Journalist, Cameroon
  • “I risk my life by traveling on the killer Kumba-Douala road [notorious for its road traffic accidents] once every week just to be able to go online. I am a refugee in my own country.”

    —community manager, Buea, Cameroon
  • “Due to suspension of networks I faced so many difficulties in my professional side as I was totally disconnected with all my contacts.”

    — Sahrish Khokher, Sindh, Pakistan
  • “Our contacts in the Northwest and Southwest regions have not been able to monitor the situation on the ground or report the difficulties journalists are facing. It has been really painful and we are afraid of losing credibility with our partners and readers.”

    — Paul-Joel Kamtchang, Cameroonian civil society organization
  • “I work on guard duty with a protected person and I’m put up at the Srinagar police lines. Due to the lack of phone network, I couldn’t reach out to my family.”

    — police officer, Kashmir

Who’s pushing back

  • Acceso Libre
  • Access Now
  • ACI Participa
  • Advocacy Initiative for Development
  • AFEX
  • Afghan Independent Journalists Association
  • Afghanistan Journalists Center
  • Africtivistes
  • Arab World Internet Institute
  • Asociacion por los Derechos Civiles
  • Association Djiboutienne des Droits de l’Homme
  • Association for Progressive Communications
  • Baaroo
  • Bahrain Center for Human Rights
  • Bahrain Watch
  • Bangladesh Manobadhikar Sangbadik Forum
  • Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communications
  • Bits of Freedom
  • Bloggers Association of Kenya
  • Blueprint for Free Speech
  • Bolo Bhi
  • Briar Project
  • Bytes for All
  • Campaign for Human Rights and Development International
  • Ca Suffit
  • Center for Democracy and Technology
  • Center for Media Research Nepal
  • Collectif #Sasouffit
  • Committee to Protect Journalists
  • Cyber Arabs
  • Delhi Union of Journalists
  • Derechos Digitales
  • Digital Rights Foundation Pakistan
  • Digital Rights Watch Australia
  • Digital Society of Zimbabwe
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation
  • Engage Media
  • EPIC
  • Feminism in India
  • Filipino Freethinkers
  • Fight for the Future
  • Foundation for Media Alternatives
  • Free Media Movement, Sri Lanka
  • Freedom Forum Nepal
  • Freemuse
  • Free Press
  • Free Press Unlimited
  • Fundacja ePaństwo
  • Fundacion Via Libre
  • Gambia Press Union
  • GetUp!
  • Gulf Center for Human Rights
  • GreatFire
  • Hack the Climate
  • Heliopolis Institute
  • Hiperderecho
  • Hivos
  • HRNJ-Uganda
  • Human Rights Foundation
  • Human Rights Watch
  • Ideosync Media Combine
  • ifreedom Uganda
  • Icelandic Modern Media Initiative
  • Index on Censorship
  • Internet Lab
  • International Federation of Journalists
  • Internet Freedom Foundation
  • International Media Support
  • Internet Sans Frontières
  • Internet Society
  • International Service for Human Rights
  • Internet Policy Observatory Pakistan
  • Internews
  • Ipandetec
  • Iraqi Network for Social Media
  • Institute for Development of Freedom of Information
  • Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety
  • IT for Change
  • ITS Rio
  • Iyina
  • Jhatkaa
  • Jordan Open Source Association
  • Journalist Association of Bhutan
  • KICTANet
  • Kiwix
  • Korean Progressive Network Jinbonet
  • La Quadrature du Net
  • Maldives Journalists Association
  • Media Development Foundation Maldives
  • Media Foundation for West Africa
  • Media Institute of Southern Africa
  • Media Matters for Democracy
  • Media Rights Agenda
  • Open Observatory of Network Interference
  • Open Democracy Advice Centre
  • OpenMedia
  • Open State Foundation
  • Open Technology Instititute
  • Namibia Media Trust
  • NYC Mesh
  • Paradigm Initiative Nigeria
  • Pacific Freedom Forum
  • PEN America
  • PEN Melbourne
  • PenPlusBytes
  • Press Union of Liberia
  • Projet d’action pour une Alternance Crédible au Tchad
  • Public Knowledge
  • R3D
  • Reporters Sans Frontières
  • Right2Know
  • Sarawak Report
  • ShareAction
  • Sinar Project
  • SMEX
  • SocialTic
  • Software Freedom Law Centre
  • SonTusDatos
  • South Asia Media Solidarity Network
  • Sula Batsu
  • Sunlight Foundation
  • Trop C’est Trop
  • Turkey Blocks
  • TVYangu
  • Unwanted Witness
  • Usuarios Digitales – Ecuador
  • Venezuela Inteligente
  • Viet Tan
  • Web Foundation
  • Women in Information Technology
  • Women of Uganda Network
  • Working Woman Journalists Nepal
Add your organization

Add Your Organization

Join the #KeepitOn campaign

What you can do to help


    Let us know if you are personally impacted by internet shutdowns. The story you submit could help change the world for the better.

    Share your story

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  2. Every voice helps! Tell people about our campaign. You can share or remix the graphics, avatars, stickers, posters, banners, and badges below.

    Download the visual kit
  3. Detected a shutdown? Email us! If you can, please include screenshots of offline pages, time and date of the shutdown, photos, or any other information you think would be helpful.

    PGP Key ID: 0xB7A750B1 Copy the public PGP Key


Have a press inquiry or want to know more about this campaign? Contact Melody Patry at melody@accessnow.org.