Civil society calls on telcos to keep demonstrators connected during U.S. election

Today, Access Now and nine civil society organizations sent a letter to the major U.S. wireless providers to ensure adequate wireless capacity for expected election-related demonstrations in early November.

The open letter specifically calls on the providers to guarantee adequate bandwidth through technology like Cell-On-Wheels support, free wifi access points, or other equivalent technology and infrastructure, to allow participants to maintain secure and open communications channels. This is essential for journalists to report their stories and for protesters to upload videos to document potential rights abuses.

“Disruptions to internet connectivity during the election would impede the American public’s ability to hold power to account,” said Jennifer Brody, Legislative Manager at Access Now. “From anticipated intimidation at the polls to likely contentious demonstrations in the streets, it is critical that the major telcos step up to ensure that U.S. residents can fully uphold their civic duty without breaks in telecommunications services.”

The internet is an essential enabler of human rights, and mobile and voice connectivity are particularly important for people to exercise their rights to freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, and access to information.