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)(Raw data coming in December 2019).


  • 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

Since 2016, the #KeepItOn coalition — more than 200 organizations from 70+ countries around the world — has been fighting internet shutdowns with all kinds of creative approaches, including grassroots advocacy, direct policy-maker engagement, technical support, and legal intervention.

  • Acceso Libre
  • Access Now
  • ACI Participa
  • ACTION Coalition
  • ADISI-Cameroun
  • Advocacy Initiative for Development
  • AFEX
  • Afghan Independent Journalists Association
  • Afghanistan Journalists Center
  • Africa Foundation for Community Development (AFCOD-Uganda)
  • Africtivistes
  • AfroLeadership
  • Arab World Internet Institute
  • ARTICLE 19
  • ARTICLE19 Eastern Africa
  • Asociacion por los Derechos Civiles
  • Association Djiboutienne des Droits de l’Homme
  • Association for Progressive Communications
  • Asuntos del Sur
  • 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
  • Bloggers of Zambia
  • Blueprint for Free Speech
  • Body and Data
  • Bolo Bhi
  • Briar Project
  • Bytes for All
  • Ça Suffit
  • Cameroon Association of Media Professionals
  • Campaign for Human Rights and Development International
  • Center for Democracy and Technology
  • Center for Media Research Nepal
  • Centre for Internet and Society
  • CHRDA
  • CIPESA (The Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa)
  • CIPIT (Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law at Strathmore University)
  • Collectif #Sasouffit
  • Committee to Protect Journalists
  • Consortium of Ethiopian Rights Organizations
  • Cyber Arabs
  • Đảng Việt Tân
  • Delhi Union of Journalists
  • Derechos Digitales
  • Digital Bridge Institute
  • Digital Rights Foundation Pakistan
  • Digital Rights Watch Australia
  • Digital Security Lab Ukraine
  • Digital Society of Zimbabwe
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation
  • Embajadores de Internet
  • EMPOWER
  • Engage Media
  • Enjambre Digital
  • EPIC
  • European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights
  • Expression Now Human Rights Initiative
  • Feminism in India
  • Fight for the Future
  • Filipino Freethinkers
  • Foundation for Media Alternatives
  • Free Expression Myanmar
  • Free Media Movement, Sri Lanka
  • Free Press
  • Free Press Unlimited
  • Freedom Forum Nepal
  • Freedom House
  • Freedom of Information Counsel
  • Freemuse
  • freenode
  • Front Line Defenders
  • Fundacion Via Libre
  • Fundacja ePaństwo
  • Gambia Press Union
  • GetUp!
  • Global Network Initiative
  • GNU Solidario
  • GreatFire
  • Gulf Center for Human Rights
  • Hack the Climate
  • Heliopolis Institute
  • Hiperderecho
  • Hivos
  • HRNJ-Uganda
  • Human Rights Centre
  • Human Rights Foundation
  • Human Rights Watch
  • Ideosync Media Combine
  • ifreedom Uganda
  • Index on Censorship
  • Inidev International
  • Institute for Development of Freedom of Information
  • Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety
  • Instituto Prensa y Sociedad de Venezuela
  • International Federation of Journalists
  • International Media Support
  • International Modern Media Institute
  • International Press Centre
  • International Service for Human Rights
  • Internet Freedom Foundation
  • Internet Lab
  • Internet Policy Observatory Pakistan
  • Internet Protection Society
  • Internet Sans Frontières
  • Internet Society
  • Internet Yetu
  • Internews
  • Ipandetec
  • IRADA
  • Iraqi Network for Social Media
  • IT for Change
  • ITS Rio
  • Iyina
  • Jamii Forum
  • Jhatkaa
  • Jordan Open Source Association
  • Journalist Association of Bhutan
  • KICTANet
  • Kiwix
  • Korean Progressive Network Jinbonet Kuza STEAM Generation
  • La Quadrature du Net LAPLIH
  • Lebanese Cyberspace Association
  • LIRNEasia
  • Localization Lab
  • Maldives Journalists Association
  • Media Development Foundation Maldives
  • Media Foundation for West Africa
  • Media Institute of Southern Africa
  • Media Legal Defense Intiatives
  • Media Matters for Democracy
  • Media Rights Agenda
  • Myan ICT for Development Organization ( MIDO)
  • Namibia Media Trust
  • Nothing 2 Hide
  • NYC Mesh
  • Open Democracy Advice Centre
  • Open Knowledge International
  • Open Observatory of Network Interference
  • Open State Foundation
  • Open Tech Fund
  • Open Technology Instititute and Measurement Lab
  • OpenMedia
  • Pacific Freedom Forum
  • Paradigm Initiative Nigeria
  • PEN America
  • PEN Melbourne
  • PenPlusBytes
  • Pollicy
  • Press Union of Liberia
  • Projet d’action pour une Alternance Crédible au Tchad
  • Public Knowledge
  • R3D
  • Reporters Sans Frontières
  • Réseau des Jeunes Bénévoles des Classiques en Sciences Sociales en Haiti
  • Réseau Ouest Africain des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (ROADDH) (West African Human Rights Defenders Network)
  • Right2Know
  • Ritimo
  • RosKomSvoboda
  • Rudi International
  • Sarawak Report
  • ShareAction
  • Sinar Project
  • Skyline for Human Rights
  • Small Media
  • Social Media Exchange
  • SocialTic
  • Software Freedom Law Centre
  • SonTusDatos
  • South Asia Media Solidarity Network
  • Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network
  • Sula Batsu
  • Sunlight Foundation
  • Swathanthra Malayalam Computing 
  • Tech for Peace
  • Thai Netizen Network
  • The Bachchao Project
  • Tor
  • Trop C’est Trop
  • Turkey Blocks
  • TVYangu
  • Union of Tanzania Press Club
  • Unwanted Witness
  • Usuarios Digitales – Ecuador
  • Venezuela Inteligente
  • Web Foundation
  • WITNESS
  • Women in Information Technology
  • Women of Uganda Network Working
  • Woman Journalists Nepal
  • Xnet
  • Yemeni Observatory for Freedom
  • Yodet
Add your organization

Add Your Organization

Join the #KeepitOn campaign

What you can do to help

  1.  

    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

    français, العَرَبِيَّة‎, español‎, português, አማርኛ, català

  2. Want to learn more? Here is a digital pamphlet you can use to share about the campaign and the coalition.

    Download the campaign pamphlet
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. If a shutdown influenced you, contact our Helpline for tech help to get back online.

    Visit the Digital Security Helpline

Resources

Contact

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