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Internet Shutdown and Blocking

Governments continue to shut down entire networks to restrict conversation – usually at key moments, such as protests or elections – despite the UN Human Rights Council condemning the disruption of online access and information (in 2016), and UN experts and special rapporteurs declaring that shutting down entire parts of communications systems can never be justified under human rights law (in 2015).

In 2018, there were 188 internet shutdowns (compared to only 108 in 2017);  [1]   42% of the global population live under governments that disconnected internet or mobile networks, often for political reasons, while 48% live in a country where access to social media or messaging platforms was blocked (temporarily or permanently).  [2]

India’s authorities are the world’s biggest perpetrators of internet shutdown, while Cameroon’s anglophone regions had 230 days of shutdown between January 2017 and March 2018.  [3] Chad’s authorities – as well as repeatedly shutting down the internet – took their control of the communications infrastructure a step further in 2018, commandeering two mobile networks to text all users informing them that a rumoured protest was illegal.


[1] Access Now, #KeepItOn, 2019, available at

[2] Freedom House, Freedom on the Net 2018, available at

[3] Access Now, #KeepItOn, 2019, available at