IGF 2018 WS #398
Data-driven policy on economic impacts of internet shutdowns

Organizer 1: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 2: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Speaker 1: Hannah Machlin, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Alp Toker, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Ashnah Kalemera, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 4: Nighat Dad, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 5: Nicolas Seidler, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Panel - 60 Min


All the speakers invited are range from civil society, technical community and activism networks. Some of the speakers live in countries where internet shutdowns have occurred and they have seen firsthand the type of economic impacts that shutdowns have had. This richness will blend into giving accurate and lived experiences, but ultimately, we will show the importance of automating the calculation of economic impact of shutdowns for policy-making.


The proposed set of panelists represents a geographical and gender balance. The submitters of this proposal invited representatives from the technical community, civil society organisations and digital activism networks throughout the developed and developing world. The panel represents a geographical balance with panelists invited from across three continents. We have strong gender diversity, as three out of five of the invited speakers are women (60%) along with our on-site and remote participation moderators. At least two panelists will be first-time speakers at IGF.

5 women (including two moderators)
2 men
5 countries represented

In this session, we will discuss this economic impact of internet shutdowns globally, but with special reference to Pakistan, Turkey and Sub-Saharan Africa. The session will build upon data gathered through COST, a new data-driven policy tool that automates the task of economic estimation.

Our international panel brings together experts from legal, technology and policy backgrounds and invites active participation from the audience to better understand how a next-generation policy tool can impact internet freedom and digital rights community.
The panel which draws on the expertise of the KeepItOn coalition against internet shutdowns, includes Nighat Dad, Founder and Director of the Digital Rights Foundation (Pakistan), Alp Toker, Founder and Executive Director of NetBlocks (Turkey), Hannah Machlin, Global Advocacy Manager of NetBlocks (United Kingdom), Ashnah Kalemera, Programmes Officer of CIPESA (Uganda) and Nico Seidler, Senior Policy Advisor at the Internet Society.

Economic arguments have already proven to be a powerful tool to combat shutdowns in contexts where freedom of expression and other fundamental human rights are too often ignored, yet the numbers are difficult to produce hence rarely used when most needed.
COST, the Cost of Shutdown Tool, is a new technology initiative announced at the African Union Commission meeting in Addis Ababa by the Internet Society and NetBlocks built within the framework of the #KeepItOn campaign against internet shutdowns.
We will also discuss and debate the following questions: How can we make policy work more visible to under-represented communities? How can we build advocacy tools that inform the internet governance community? Can we empower marginalised communities by showing how the least affluent members tend to be the most harshly impacted by internet shutdowns?

Session agenda will address the following:

1. The economic cost of cyberattacks and internet shutdowns
2. How the COST tool works
3. Country and regional case studies: Pakistan, Turkey and Sub-Saharan Africa
4. Open floor discussion

The duration of the session will be 60mins. Panel discussion, with 5 speakers discussions broken down in the following:

- 10 minutes opening remarks/introduction from speakers
- 30 minutes panel discussion with moderator probing
- 20 minutes open floor discussion with periodic intervals for remote participants

Previous reports estimate that in 2016 Internet shutdowns cost globally about $2.4 billion USD, and across 10 African countries have led to loss of $237 million USD over 236 days. The economic impact of internet disruptions has been frequently discussed at IGF and regional IG meetings, yet that work has often failed to translate into effective policy for change. Specific calculations have been difficult for policy-makers due to complexity of calculation and sourcing of data. A new initiative announced at the African Union meeting in 2017, now in development, takes previous work and turns it into an effective policy and advocacy instrument for 200 countries and regions around the world. The May contribution to the UN Secretary-General's 2017 report on WSIS implementation for the Commission on Science and Technology for Development details the Cost of Shutdown Tool, or COST.

Online Participation

A remote moderator will enlist questions and comments from the audience during the workshop. Prior to the workshop, the hashtags #KeepItOn and #COST will be used to bring in comments and questions from prospective attendees. The workshop moderator, Arzu Geybullayeva, will coordinate with our online participation moderator, Isik Mater. There will be an automatic transcription for hearing impaired.