Critical issues presentations/Fighting Internet Shutdowns on Wikipedia and Beyond

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Submission no. 85
Title of the submission

Fighting Internet Shutdowns on Wikipedia and Beyond

Author of the submission
  • Deji Olukotun
Country of origin

United States of America


Outreach, Policy

  • internet shutdown
  • free expression
  • blocking

Internet shutdowns represent a terrifying and real trend worldwide. Shutdowns and blocking often precede egregious human rights violations and impact our ability to seek, receive, and impart information. In 2015 alone, Access Now recorded nearly 20 shutdowns in a variety of contexts and situations, from the Pacific Ocean to Pakistan to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Shutdowns severely impact the ability of Wikipedia users to access and edit information. They also harm innovation, stymie local economies, and block the use of emergency services.

In the first short section of this session, I'll share key strategic lessons for activists about how to fight internet shutdowns, including: working with telcos to resist government orders, how to speak about shutdowns in human rights language, pressuring government figures, capturing data about shutdowns, and storytelling for change. I'll also share key indicators that we have tracked over time.

The second, main part of the session will be wholly interactive and focus on a shutdown simulation that invites participants to respond to the shutdown.

In this section, we'll run a simulation of a real internet shutdown. One group will operate inside the country where the shutdown occurs and the second will be outside the country. We'll show what tools each group can do to push back and turn the internet back on so that the information can keep flowing. Importantly, we'll show how they can coordinate their efforts and record them to prevent future human rights abuses.

By the time the full session is over, we'll have built a core group of Wikipedians who can take action against internet shutdowns around the world. They'll have access to the latest tools, strategies, and research to end internet shutdowns. We'll also ask people to opt-in to a mailing list if they'd like to join the fight against shutdowns to encourage grassroots collaboration and activism across borders. We would also create a cohort of skilled first responders to push back against shutdowns.

What should Wikipedians do when a shutdown occurs? They'd better be ready. By attending this session, join a movement of people looking to help all of us keep the internet on.



Interested attendees and comments