Internet shutdowns restrict human rights and any such shutdown should be subject to prior authorization by a court or another independent adjudicatory body, to avoid any political, commercial or other unwarranted influence, according to the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights (HCHR), Michelle Bachelet. The High Commissioner issued guiding principles in an annual report on Internet shutdowns submitted in May 2022 to the UN Human Rights Council at its 50th session.
The report provides an overview of trends in Internet shutdowns as well as an analysis of their causes and the legal implications and the impact on human rights thereof, the roles of companies, the existing efforts to promote Internet connectivity and provide development aid, and the relevance of such efforts for detecting, preventing and responding to shutdowns, as well as a set of recommended measures for ending shutdowns and minimizing their impact.
The 71-paragraph report explored various issues around Internet shutdown including Scope: defining Internet shutdowns; Legal framework; Trends in Internet shutdowns and the main impacts thereof; and Detecting, preventing and responding to shutdowns.
It reached its conclusions and made recommendations to the various stakeholders on addressing the issues. It made recommendations to States, companies; development agencies, regional organizations and international organizations; and civil society.
To download the full report, please click UN OHCHR Report on Internet Shutdown.