[Community-Discuss] "Fighting Internet Shutdown" - Any Role for AFRINIC?

Noah noah at neo.co.tz
Sun Apr 16 06:27:03 UTC 2017


Under normal circumstances, the internet is open in most African countries
save for a few that censor it to a certain extend.

Half of the continent is not connected to the internet especially folk in
rural Africa and we all know the challenges (a data plan ain't a basic
need). These are the folk that account for more that 50% of the electorate
and majority of them are not connected to the cyber space.

So cutting off the internet from a minority population of elites in urban
centers to contain political uprisings/opposition is a strategy worthy
exploring as far as some of our governments are concerned. Mind you there
has been a lot of cyber-laws being enacted by both policymakers and
lawmakers across different African countries as a way of
containing/censoring the cyber space.

We can not deny the fact that social media has been a disruptive tool that
has taken away control of information dissemination from the State. It was
easy to control broadcasting [The Radio/Television] as the center of
production was a physical location which the authority could just walk in
and switch off the antennas or the spectrum during times of political
uprisings. Today information can be sent through twitter, facebook,
instagram all done in real time almost at the speed of light and/or from
someones bedroom.

So whenever political power is threatened by means of the cyber space, the
quickest hack for mostly despotic governments is to shutdown the Internets
if they cant block or censor them hence the suppression [1].

So for me personally, I am more interested in folks debating the various
political factors that lead to internet shutdown and we must accept that
the its politics and nothing but politics that attract the final shutdown.

Therefore stakeholders who intend to engage governments to lobby for an
open internet can only engage the politicians when they understand how
serious an open internet is a threat to any governments whose regime in
under threat during times of political protests and would not hesitate for
a second to press the off button and like *SM* indicated to contain
political opposition.

We have a long way to fight for the liberties of all kind but a
multi-stakeholder discourse is a starting point in promoting internet

The Internet is a growing tool not just for personal communication, but for
nations economies and the case for Internet has to be as important as any
other factor that drives the GDP growth of a sovereign state's economy and
the is no no doubt that the digital economy is expected to grow more that
we could imagine. So lets look at all options.


[1] Needless to say, In other parts of the world, censorship and
surveillance has become the norm and an alternative to internet shutdown. If
the people are not free, how do you expect the internet to be free?   Thinking
Snowden and Julian Assange for a second....
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