Internet blackouts ordered by governments are serious attacks on human rights, especially against freedom of expression and information, favor inequality and cause damage to the economy, considered the United Nations Office for Human Rights.
In a report published by the agency headed by High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, intentional interruptions of Internet access and other communications by governments are analyzed, as well as their causes and consequences.
“Too often, major communication channels or entire communication networks are slowed down or blocked, depriving thousands or millions of people of the only means they have to contact loved ones, get work done, or participate in discussions and decisions. policies”, states the report.
In countries like China, governments, in addition to resorting to a blockade of connectivity, prohibit access to important social and communication platforms, including Twitter and Whatsapp.
Between 2016 and 2021, 931 internet blackouts were identified in 74 countries and some of them occurred repeatedly and over a long period of time.
“Internet outages are powerful markers of human rights problems”said the expert from the UN Human Rights Office, Peggy Hicks.
It has been found that intentional interruptions of internet services occur more during electoral periods, which prevents citizens from accessing independent information and in the long run “undermines democratic processes“, he pointed.
The report confirms that governments tend to evade responsibility when they are accused of this practice and of 228 cases in 55 countries denounced by civil society organizations, no government acknowledged having anything to do with this situation.
The countries that acknowledge having cut off Internet access allege reasons of public security, defense against racist attacks or fight against disinformation, but the UN considers that in reality the opposite effect is caused because “confusion is fostered and the risk of division and conflict increases.”
In addition, internet blackouts increase the digital divide between and within countries.
For the economy of the countries, the effects are also seriously damaging since they increase the costs for employment, education, health and political participation.