Global Network Initiative and Telecommunications Industry Dialogue Joint Statement on Network and Service Shutdowns
The Global Network Initiative and the Telecommunications Industry Dialogue are deeply concerned by the increasing number of government orders to shut down or restrict access to communication networks and related services around the world. Government-mandated disruptions of communications networks, network services (such as SMS), or internet services (such as social media, search engines, or news sites) can undermine security and public safety, threaten free expression, restrict access to vital emergency, payment and health services, and disrupt contact with family members and friends. In some countries, the orders frequently occur at politically sensitive moments, during unrest or in the lead-up to elections, restricting the free flow of information. Disruptions also negatively affect a broad range of economic activity, preventing financial transactions, stalling e-commerce and undermining business operations. Even temporary disruptions may complicate the provision of medical care and education, which increasingly rely on the sharing of digital information. “Government-ordered disruptions of communications networks and services are on the rise. The consequences of such orders can be as dire as the security threats they ostensibly target," said Mark Stephens, CBE, Independent Chair of the GNI Board. "They cut off citizens from essential information and contact with loved ones, impede the work of emergency and security services, and undermine economic activity,” he said.