‘Internet Shutdowns Have Humanitarian, Economic Implications’

A panel discussion on internet shutdowns and internet freedoms during the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa at Golf course Hotel on Wednesday

Players in the digital space have criticized the trend of internet censorship by state actors saying it has humanitarian and economic implications.

Governments across Africa and beyond have increasingly pulled a plug on online platforms claiming it is to facilitate national security.

However, link some say these internet shutdowns work to protect political regimes especially those seeking to consolidate themselves in power.

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In a spun of 8 months alone, stomach there has been 18 shutdowns on the internet in Africa most of them being triggered by electoral tensions.

Anriette Esterhuysen from the Association for Progressive Communications thinks that clamping down on the internet by governments is not justified.

“Sometimes the reasons are not legitimate. Governments just make up these excuses because they don’t want citizen engagement, accountability and debate,” Anriette told ChimpReports during the ongoing Forum on Internet Freedoms in Africa at Golf Course Hotel on Wednesday.

“I don’t think evidence indicates that switching off Internet actually stops say racial hatred. If it has already escalated online, then it is even worse in reality,” she added.

“The nature of the internet is used for multiple purposes and political engagement is part of it, business, and access to health care information. During times of upheaval and violence, it is essential, is very crucial and to deprive of people of such a tool in crisis isn’t justified,” she added.

Another participant in the forum said; “Shutdowns need to be viewed in terms of their humanitarian impact especially during crises. In the 2013 Egypt scenario, there were contradicting reports on how many people had died simply because people couldn’t access information and news online.”

In addition to causing economic paralysis especially for those in e-commerce and social media driven businesses, internet shutdowns also infringe on individual rights of expression and communication.


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