Growing the Internet 10 December 2018

NetBlocks and the Internet Society launch tool to calculate the cost of Internet censorship worldwide

10 December, 2018 — The civil society group, NetBlocks, and the Internet Society, a global non-profit organisation dedicated to the open development, use and evolution of the Internet, have partnered up to build a tool to better measure the cost of Internet disruptions.

The Cost of Shutdown Tool (COST) launches today and estimates the economic impact of Internet shutdowns, mobile data blackouts and social media restrictions including throttling. The tool allows calculation by country, services and length of time.

“This novel tool will empower the next stage of data-driven advocacy. By calculating numbers in real time, COST will allows us to communicate to governments and technology companies on how much revenue they’re losing when they disrupt the Internet. We hope by the tool will make governments think twice before threatening Internet freedom, ” Hannah Machlin, Global Advocacy Manager for the NetBlocks Group, said.

“We believe the opportunities brought by the Internet should be available for everyone and a tool such as COST can help governments understand the economic impact of shutting down or blocking the Internet. While we can’t quantify the human cost of switching off the Internet, this helps quantify the economic cost,” explains Constance Bommelaer de Leusse, Senior Director Global Internet Policy for the Internet Society.

The COST tool is built upon established research papers published by the Brookings Institution for global coverage and a specialised model by CIPESA for sub-Saharan Africa, taking into account indirect economic factors and informal economies that play a major role in the region. Economic indicators are integrated from open data sources including the World Bank, ITU and Eurostat.

The COST tool has already been used to bolster reporting around Internet disruptions worldwide. COST calculated that a shutdown in Sri Lanka during protests, led to an estimated loss of $30,000,000 USD, cited by a national campaign launched by the Social Media User’s Union. In Iraq, multi-day outages cost the economy an estimated $40,000,000 USD, where the figure was referenced by a variety of stakeholders from street vendors to the oil industry. Beta version of the tool indicated that a shutdown in Ethiopia cost 3,500,000 birr, a key figure in a letter addresses to national officials.

The COST tool can be accessed online and is designed to support mobile devices and desktop workstations — The tool can also work offline as a progressive web application in case the user has no Internet connection.


For more information from NetBlocks, please contact Hannah Machlin: [email protected], +44 7447 579 882

For more information from Internet Society, please contact Allesandra deSantillana: [email protected]

About the NetBlocks Group

NetBlocks is an independent civil society organisation working at the intersection of digital rights, cyber security and Internet governance. With offices in Istanbul and London, the organisation monitors Internet disruptions globally through its Internet Shutdown Observatory and COST.

About the Internet Society

Founded by Internet pioneers, the Internet Society (ISOC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution and use of the Internet. Working through a global community of chapters and members, the Internet Society collaborates with a broad range of groups to promote the technologies that keep the Internet safe and secure, and advocates for policies that enable universal access. The Internet Society is also the organizational home of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

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