When The Internet Dies
“The 21st century is a digital book”. That phrase was culled from “Captain America – the winter soldier” and it encapsulates the modern world connected via the internet.
If you’rereading this post, then you’re an internet user and should forgive me as I skip the part of “what the internet is and how it came about”. The important thing is that you’re using it, and you can access unlimited information (not politically right) including this one.
Everything around one almost involves the internet. It has revolutionized communications, to the extent that it is the preferred medium of everyday communication. In almost everything we do, we use the Internet. Ordering a pizza, buying a television, sharing a moment with a friend, sending a picture over instant messaging, transportation, remote access, entertainment etc (the list is long)
Internet Shutdown and what it is
An Internet shutdown is an intentional disruption of Internet-based communications, rendering them inaccessible or effectively unavailable, for a specific population, location, or mode of access, often to exert control over the flow of information (as described by https://www.internetsociety.org/ ). There can be a total shutdown (internet is no longer working) or a partial shutdown (government restricts your access to certain apps or websites)
In recent times, internet shutdown has been used as a political tool to restrict communication and ensure security and safety. In early 2019, there had been a global record of 114 internet shutdowns across 23 countries.
In 2016, the UN declared internet access to be a human right, and achieving universal access is one target of its Sustainable Development Goals. However, not all country leaders buy into this idea as some think the internet shouldn’t be likened to water or air and that a shut down was necessary for national stability. A lot of people (leaders) think the internet is just social media and hence they don’t see any economic value in the internet.
So what are the negative effects of internet shutdown apart from communication cut-off?
Economic impact: In modern times, almost every business (small or large enterprise) is online, and they all suffer when they cannot communicate. Developing economies and third world countries feel the impact of shutdown more as they struggle to get financial stability. As more people from around the world join the digital revolution, internet shutdowns impact the world economy in a more drastic way. “internet shutdowns all over the world cost $2.4 billion in 2015-2016. – brookings“
Human Rights Impact: People depend on the internet in general and social media in specific to stay in touch with their family and friends or to voice their opinions. The internet has become an essential tool for people to exercise their freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. In light of this, partial or total shutdown should be considered violation of human rights.
What to do when there is a shut down.
Partial Shutdown: use Google DNS to redirect traffic through another IP to escape cencorship, a VPN will also let you bypass the restrictions set by the government.
Total Shutdown: You’ll need a mesh network.Mesh networks allows one set up a network. While you won’t be able to access Google or Facebook, you can still voice your opinions. You can set up a chat room and spread the message there. And this can be done even if all the internet is shut down in your area. watch out for our next post on mesh networks.
In conclusion, when there is a political unrest, there has to be dialogue between the government and its citizens. It’s important for governments to understand that internet shutdowns also slow down the economy and have a negative impact on many sectors of society.