Organisation: UN OHCHR (United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner)
OHCHR will report on internet shutdowns and human rights to the fiftieth session of the Human Rights Council in June 2022. To support this report, OHCHR calls for all relevant stakeholders to submit information on their work promoting connectivity, detecting, preventing and responding to internet shutdowns. Besides this call for submissions, a call for information is being shared with States. Expert consultations on the same subject are planned to take place in early 2022.
UN Human Rights Council resolution on the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet (A/HRC/47/22) requested OHCHR “to study the trend in Internet shutdowns, analysing their causes, their legal implications and their impact on a range of human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights.” The Council further encouraged States and all stakeholders to “share best practices on issues pertaining to bridging digital divides and enabling digital inclusion, including by collecting and providing public access to disaggregated data on access and use by disadvantaged persons or groups.” The resolution strongly condemns shutdowns and calls States to refrain from such measures. It also calls for strengthening efforts aimed at bridging digital divides within and between countries, with particular attention to marginalized groups, women and children.
For the purposes of this consultation, shutdowns are understood as measures to intentionally disrupt access to and use of information and communications systems online. Shutdowns may occur in a wide range of forms, including bandwidth throttling to slow internet access, blocking of specific apps such as social media or messaging services and other services, and the partial or complete shutdown of access to the internet. Such disruptions are typically ordered by public authorities and implemented by companies that operate communications networks or facilitate network traffic.
The report will address trends regarding the occurrence of shutdowns and their impact, measures adopted to prevent and respond to these events, as well as the relevance of disruptions for efforts aiming at promoting connectivity and digital inclusion.
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