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Access 22 November 2017

The Internet Society and NetBlocks Team up to Keep it on!

Constance Bommelaer de Leusse
By Constance Bommelaer de LeusseSenior Director, Global Internet Policy

By Constance Bommelaer de Leusse and Alp Toker

How much do government shutdowns cost? How do they impact growth and prosperity?

In 2016 Internet shutdowns cost globally about $2.4 billion USD, and across 10 African countries they led to loss of $237 million USD over 236 days.

If we don’t act now, shutdowns and restrictions of access will continue to rise and the economic cost will increase over the next few years. At a time where developing countries can benefit the most from Internet access for economic growth, education and health, we cannot let this situation become the new normal.

The economic rationale of keeping it on

The impact of shutdowns on freedom of expression and human rights is already well understood. Unfortunately, this has little effect in reversing the trend. This is why we need the ear of economic and trade Ministers, investors, development banks, and others who can ensure the Internet isn’t shut down. Because they care about the growth and prosperity the Internet can bring.

Today we are excited to announce that the Internet Society and NetBlocks are teaming up to develop a tool to better measure the cost of shutdowns, and convince governments to keep the Internet on. The Cost of Shutdowns Tool (COST) will be a data-driven online tool that will enable anyone – including journalists, researchers, advocates, policy makers, businesses, and many others – to quickly and easily estimate the economic cost of Internet disruptions. The tool will cover shutdowns affecting social media, key content platforms and full Internet blackouts. Development of this online and mobile platform has started, and we expect an early functioning platform to be available by summer 2018.

In Africa alone, we know that there is untapped potential for the Internet to enable much greater economic benefits and to create jobs across the continent. In the spirit of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, we must make all efforts to leverage the Internet as a driver of opportunities, and minimize its restrictions.

This is the message we are conveying this week at the African Union Commission meeting in Addis Ababa.

Learn more about NetBlocks.org, a network observatory that monitors Internet shutdowns, network disruptions, and cybersecurity incidents and their relation to global politics and conflict in realtime.

Read the Internet Society’s statements on Internet shutdowns.

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