IGF 2018 WS #207
Internet shutdowns in Asia Pacific & how to mitigate it

Organizer 1: Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Organizer 2: Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Speaker 1: Ritu Srivastava, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Shahzad Ahmad, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Raman Jit Singh Chima, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Round Table - 90 Min


Introduction - 5 minutes
Experiences, Impact/Effects of various versions of Internet Restrictions
Panel - 15 Minutes
Audience - 15 Minutes
Identifying Commonalities and Uniqueness, reasons and rationals of Internet Shutdowns
Audience - 15 Minutes
Panel - 15 Minutes
How and what we need to protect Free, open and inclusive internet
Audience - 20 Minutes
Panel - 5 Minutes
Conclusion - 5 Minutes


The session will have panelists from different regions sharing their experiences about Internet shutdowns in their country.

This panel will address the impact of internet shutdowns on different sectors and services, and explore what can and should be done to bring pressure on governments to stop this practice. It will also explore what platforms and internet service providers can do to address this issue. The research by the Brookings Institution which says that shutdowns cost the economy billions.

Also, the UN Human Rights Council in its resolution 32/13 (a non-binding resolution) “unequivocally condemned” “measures to intentionally prevent or disrupt access to or dissemination of information online in violation of international human rights law, and called upon all States to refrain from and cease such measures.”

We here discuss who restrict the Internet, on what ground, effects on various perspectives and how we mitigate the internet restriction and protect free, open and inclusive nature of the Internet for the future generations.

We will be discussing various reasonings for internet shutdowns they have a range of online harassment, violence, defamation, child protection, national security etc. There are patterns, commonalities, and differences.

The workshop will also discuss ways and means, best practices how Internet freedom can be protected while mitigating reasons that given by the Authorities. How should we act responsibly in the face of Internet shutdowns and what regional collaboration might help the free, open and inclusive Internet

The session will be in format of roundtable, having 4 speakers at the most. Each speaker will have 5 minutes to share their experiences. After each discussion, there will 5 minutes of question and answer session and discussion will be initiated to identify mitigation strategy and how to build support group. For this, moderator will be asking from each on of participants on strategies of making support group. The same question will be asked to online participants. The online moderator will inform the moderator if there is any strategy from online participant will come. Moderator will consolidate the points in 5 bullet points and share with everyone in the room and take their consent.

The Internet restrictions are now a common action of the governments like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka to curb the free flow of information. They appear to believe that the internet may be a restrictable and controllable entity. But in really Free and openness of the internet made it very hard to control. The Internet Acess is considered as a right. Also, the UN Human Rights Council in its resolution 32/13 (a non-binding resolution) “unequivocally condemned” “measures to intentionally prevent or disrupt access to or dissemination of information online in violation of international human rights law, and called upon all States to refrain from and cease such measures.”

Between 2012 and 2018, India has witnessed 159 incidences of internet shutdowns around the country. This worrying trend of cutting off internet access in response to political or social volatility is growing in South Asia, parts of Africa and West Asia. Internet shutdowns cause disruption to everyday life and affect the economy, businesses, education, access to information, essential and emergency services, and mental health. Digital Empowerment Foundation’s research on internet shutdowns has found that prolonged internet shutdowns cause residents’ mistrust in their government and the democratic process.

Even third-world countries like Sri Lanka are heavily reliant on knowledge-based service incomes and tourism. It directly affects industries economically. In Sri Lanka, a recent shutdown of the Internet for nine days is estimated to have cost the country. US$30 million Hidden losses inflate the costs. So we will discuss impact in several perspectives such as economic, technical, social, gender-based, differently able community,... etc.

With so much of our interactions – social and economic – taking place via internet enabled services, cutting off access to the internet is undemocratic and violates the freedom of expression and freedom of association and assembly. In 2016, access to the internet was declared a human right by the UN Human Rights Council.

The capability of the internet to empower is very high. The Internet can be the vehicle to reach most of the SDG goals. The nature of Internet had allowed people to think it as an anonymous watchdog, which is a media that uncover deals behind the scenes etc. This creates a need to control the internet to prevent their ill-acts. Governments, political parties, some civil organizations advocate of Internet Restrictions over the ill-uses of the Internet such as promoting violence, harassment, defamations, fake news etc. We need Internet Governance procedures to mitigate such ill-acts to prevent the better internet. As IG activist we should be open to all the perspectives, but in the grounds, states play a major role in internet Restrictions.

Online Participation

To engage online participants, we will be using online tool 'Slido' inviting participants to share their questions and their country situations. Online moderator will reading all the questions from the tool and identify best questions to be raised among audience.Also for identifying mitigation strategy, online participants will be asked to share what works best in their country. This way, we will maintain anonymity and also developing mitigation strategy. Online participants will be given equal opportunity by online moderator