|APrIGF 2023 Session Proposal Submission Form|
|Part 1 - Lead Organizer|
|Ms. Radhika jhalani|
|Organization / Affiliation (Please state "Individual" if appropriate) *|
|Volunteer Legal Counsel|
|Economy of Residence|
|Primary Stakeholder Group|
|List Your Organizing Partners (if any)|
|Namrata Maheshwari, firstname.lastname@example.org, Asia pacific Policy Counsel|
|Part 2 - Session Proposal|
|The Fight against Internet Shutdowns and the role of Multilateral fora like G20|
|Where do you plan to organize your session?|
|Onsite at the venue (with online moderator for questions and comments from remote participants)|
|Specific Issues for Discussion|
|Governments in Asia are resorting to internet shutdowns as a near-default tool to counter not just unrest and protests but also cheating in exams. India has led the world in terms of the number of internet shutdowns imposed for five consecutive years, with 84 recorded shutdowns in 2022 alone. Authorities in Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Pakistan are also infamous for imperilling digital rights by blocking access to the internet and/or social media platforms.
Shutdowns affect the fundamental human rights to free speech, assembly, information, and livelihood. They are used along with an ever increasing number of censorship tools, like blocking websites and issuing takedown orders to social media platforms, in order to suppress criticism, cover up human rights abuses, and stymie democratic debate and discussion.
Further, internet shutdowns deepen the digital divide along class, caste, and gender lines. They hinder digital inclusion, a stated goal for many South Asian countries. Given the intent and extent of digitalisation of services, shutdowns affect people’s access to crucial services like banking, healthcare, and state welfare schemes.
Large-scale shutdowns have a devastating impact on the overall economy of the affected areas. Even shorter shutdowns can have long-term effects on how people can run their businesses, access education, and the convenience of their daily life because of uncertain and inconsistent access to the internet.
The session will explore the threat and impact of internet shutdowns in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Myanmar, where authorities have frequently used the kill switch. It will also explore themes of digital inclusion and how shutdowns further the digital divide. The panellists will delve into the crucial need to develop strategies to tackle shutdowns, including conversations on the role of multilateral fora like the G20, and how the international community can work to maintain unhampered access to a free, open, and secure internet.
|Describe the Relevance of Your Session to APrIGF|
|The session is aimed at a very specific subject of how shutdowns remain conspicuously absent from the subject of digital economies. Shutdowns come down heavily on access and digital inclusion, they restrict economic activities, student life as well as civic freedoms. Economies in South East Asia are heavily reliant on the Internet. In such a case, arbitrary cuts to the internet break the promise of digital inclusion. This session will bring together experts from various South Asian countries to create a melting pot of global perspectives so that a more comprehensive approach to this issue could be adopted. The standing of a country between an authoritarian regime and to liberal democracy is telling of how governments misuse shutdowns. We would like to understand from our global stakeholders the most effective strategies against shutdowns.|
|Methodology / Agenda (Please add rows by clicking "+" on the right)|
|Moderators & Speakers Info (Please complete where possible)|
|Please explain the rationale for choosing each of the above contributors to the session.|
|Radhika from SFLC.in and leads the Internet Shutdowns Project at SFLC.in
Namarata helps with the Keep it on Report and helps advocate against shutdowns
|Please declare if you have any potential conflict of interest with the Program Committee 2023.|
|Are you or other session contributors planning to apply for the APrIGF Fellowship Program 2023?|
|Brief Summary of Your Session|
|Access Now and sflc.in co-hosted a panel at AprIGF on 31st August, 2023 to discuss internet shutdowns in India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar and strategies to counter them. The panel featured speakers Faruq Faisel, Regional Director, Bangladesh and South Asia, Article 19; Wai Phyo Myint, Policy Analyst, Access Now; and Radhika Jhalani, Volunteer Legal Counsel, sflc.in, and was moderated by Namrata Maheshwari, Asia Pacific Policy Counsel, Access Now.|
|Substantive Summary of the Key Issues Raised and the Discussion|
|The panel considered the impact of internet shutdowns, especially on vulnerable groups in Myanmar and Bangladesh, and on protest and dissent. The panel also discussed the contradictions in India’s policies to embrace digital technologies while simultaneously limiting access to the internet. The panel concluded with discussions of potential strategies to oppose internet shutdowns at the ground level as well as at international multilateral fora like the G20 and other summits.|
|Number of Attendees (Please fill in numbers)|
|Gender Balance in Moderators/Speakers (Please fill in numbers)|
|I agree that my data can be submitted to forms.for.asia and processed by APrIGF organizers for the program selection of APrIGF 2023.|