University of Oxford, Bonavero Institute for Human Rights & University of Johannesburg: ‘The Internet Shutdowns in Africa Conference’ (Johannesburg, South Africa)
June 7 @ 8:00 am - June 8 @ 5:00 pm
The Internet Shutdowns in Africa conference is a two-day programme aimed at sparking in-depth and productive conversations about the rise of internet shutdowns on the continent. It is organized by the ERC-funded ConflictNet programme at the University of Oxford’s Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy, the Bonavero Institute for Human Rights, and the Department of Journalism, Film, and Television at the University of Johannesburg’s School of Communication. The conference is convened by Nicole Stremlau and Eleanor Marchant.
There has been a dramatic increase in internet shutdowns in Africa. In 2016, the number of shutdowns doubled from the previous year, affecting citizens in 11 countries on the continent. And while the number of shutdowns declined slightly in 2017, governments that resorted to disrupting the internet did so more frequently and for longer periods of time. From anti-government protests to Cameroon to exam cheating in Ethiopia, concerns of election-related violence in Uganda, and quelling social unrest in Zimbabwe, the justifications are diverse.
There is a pressing need for more in-depth research into the whys and hows governments are choosing to curtail internet access. In particular more research is urgently needed to answer questions around motivations, the legal and political processes that enable internet shutdowns to take place, the technological developments enhancing the ability and willingness of actors to resort to such measures, and the role that international and non-state actors like technology companies, ISPs, and governments are playing in this process.