internet shutdown #KeepItOn

Eyes on Kenya: government must uphold commitment to connectivity during elections

All eyes will be on Kenya over the coming months as Access Now and civil society from across the globe urge authorities to uphold their commitment to ensuring a fair, open, and accessible internet throughout the presidential elections scheduled for August 9.

“Democracy means information, participation, and communication. Democracy means internet accessibility,” said Felicia Anthonio, #KeepItOn Campaign Manager at Access Now. “Kenya votes on August 9, and Access Now is calling on authorities to stand by their commitment, and #KeepItOn when it counts — always!”

At least three times this year — first in May, then again twice this month — authorities have committed to keeping the country connected during this cornerstone moment in the nation’s democracy. Chief Justice Martha Koome has also highlighted the importance of digitization and access to the internet,  and committed the judiciary to ensuring that the law is upheld in internet governance efforts.

Although there have been no recorded cases of Kenyan authorities shutting down the internet, they have made several attempts to exert control over information flow in the country during election periods, such as during the 2007 elections by imposing a ban on live broadcasts, leading some broadcasters to suspend news coverage of the disputed elections. 

“Authorities are implementing internet shutdowns across the region and causing serious harm to fundamental rights and democracy,” said Grace Githaiga, CEO & Convenor at Kenya ICT Network (KICTANet). “Kenya continues to set an example of not restricting internet and social media use during elections. The 2022 general election should be no different. #KeepItOn in Kenya this election.”

Access Now and the coalition of organizations are calling on authorities to: 

  • Publicly assure the people of the Republic of the Kenya that the internet, including social media and other digital communication platforms, will remain open, accessible, inclusive and secure across Kenya before, during and after the election;
  • Refrain from ordering the interruption of telecommunications services, social media platforms, and other digital communication platforms;
  • Ensure that telecommunications and internet service providers implement all necessary measures to provide high-quality, secure, unrestricted and uninterrupted internet access;  and,
  • Ensure that telecommunication and internet service providers inform internet users of any potential disruptions, and to take all reasonable steps to fix any identified disruptions.

Increasingly, civil society from across the globe and international actors such as the United Nations are uniting in the fights to #KeepItOn, as outlined in a recent RightsCon summit conversation.

Read the full statement.