Penplusbytes has joined nearly 90 organizations from five continents in launching the #KeepitOn campaign to fight internet shutdowns worldwide. The #KeepItOn campaign hosted by Access Now to fight internet shutdowns has been running since 2009.
Internet shutdowns described as an intentional disruption of internet or electronic communications, rendering them inaccessible or effectively unusable, for a specific population or within a location, has been rampant in this digital age. It usually happens when governments order service providers to cut off access to communications tools — like Twitter, SMS, or Facebook. This trend is getting worse year-on-year. In 2015 alone more than 15 shutdowns were recorded worldwide. This year, 20 shutdowns have already been recorded in the first half of the year.
The Inspector General of Police, John Kudalor’s intention to ban social media use on Election Day in Ghana will mean that Ghana is joining the league of countries implementing varied forms of internet shutdowns. Although Governments, and in Ghana’s case the Police Service, have given a plethora of reasons why a shutdown would best serve good governance, organisations such as Access Now and Penplusbytes have raised issues and pointed out the dangers of such a move..
According to the Executive Director of Penplusbytes, Kwami Ahiabenu II, “joining this ongoing campaign will help bring to light the negative side effects of internet shutdowns which certainly outweighs the good ”. He added, “It would be appropriate for governments to invest in other means of properly policing internet use rather than a shutdown which actually solves nothing in the end.”
The #KeepitOn campaign aims to bring together voices from across the globe to push back on internet shutdowns at every level; from governments, to Telcos, to tech companies and internet providers. It began with the adoption of an international definition of internet shutdowns at RightsCon Silicon Valley. Among other targets, the campaign will challenge service providers to fight back against government shutdown requests; highlight the use of shutdowns during elections; and build consensus at the U.N. and within other intergovernmental organizations that people have a basic right to access information and speak freely online.
Penplusbytes is a not-for-profit organization driving change through innovations in three key areas: using new digital technologies to enable good governance and accountability, new media and innovations, and enhancing media oversight for effective utilization of mining, oil and gas revenue and resources.
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Access Now defends and extends the digital rights of users at risk around the world. By combining innovative policy, global advocacy, and direct technical support, we fight for open and secure communications for all.