Internet Shutdowns and Human Rights

Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and Derechos Digitales

The Authors produced this submission in response to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for input to a report on internet shutdowns and human rights that will be presented to the 50th session of the Human Rights Council in June 2022.

It outlined the mandated disruptions of communications during the past five years – ranging from complete national internet shutdowns to regional internet shutdowns to social media shutdowns – in four regions (Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East and North Africa), based on the work and reports of APC members.

Furthermore, it looked into the impacts of internet shutdowns, focusing on the following areas: The gender impact of internet shutdowns; the impact of shutdowns on media and journalism; the economic impact of internet shutdowns; the impact of shutdowns on education; social and psychological impacts and impacts on human rights.

The third section explored the various initiatives to promote internet connectivity and digital bridge divides, given the crucial role played by access to the internet for the full exercise of the entire spectrum of human rights in a world where billions of people remain "unconnected".

Lastly, it ended with a series of recommendations aimed primarily at states which include: Calling on states to refrain from engaging in this practice; taking measures to restrict the concentration of digital service provision and networking spaces by a few companies that have led to internet centralization; states and the international community should support the realization of the right of people to shape and use the internet and digital meaningfully

technologies to meet their specific needs and realities, among others.