When the forces of Russian President Vladimir Putin besieged Kherson in Ukraine in March, they blocked Ukrainians’ access to independent news and censored Internet traffic.
After taking power in Burma in February 2021, the military blocked access to the Internet to undermine mass opposition to her coup d’état and to prevent the spread of information about the atrocities she continues to commit against the people of Burma.
In both cases, Internet watchdogs were quick to denounce the crackdown on freedom to learn and impart information, which is part of the right to freedom of expression enshrined in Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Our report w/@caida_ioda @myanmarido share data on:
• Social media blocking, Wikipedia, bypass tool sites
— OONI (@OpenObservatory) March 9, 2021
A small number of businesses, academic organizations and non-profit groups, including the Myanmar ICT Development Organization (MIDO) andOpen the Network Intrusion Observatory* (OONI), closely monitored internet censorship in the country and reported their observations immediately after the coup and in the following months.
Doug Madory, from the California Society Kentish*, who tracked Russia’s manipulation of Ukraine’s Internet data in Kherson, explains in a blog post* As of August 9: The hijacking of Ukraine’s cyberspace allowed the Kremlin to “monitor, intercept and jam communications with the outside world.”
“This creates a serious danger for the residents of Kherson, especially those who resist the occupation of the city,” he said.
Through remote and on-the-ground monitoring, these vigilante groups are exposing Internet bottlenecks and putting digital tools in the hands of citizens around the world so they can monitor connectivity in their own countries.
Internet service in Russian-occupied Kherson, Ukraine went down at 16:12 UTC (6:12 p.m. local) on Saturday, April 30. #UkraineRussia War
Khersontelecom service was restored ~24 hours later via Russian transit from nearby Crimea. pic.twitter.com/uN31jLrzEc
— Doug Madory (@DougMadory) May 2, 2022
Their role is all the more important as many governments resort to shutting down networks, a measure that the NGO Freedom House likens to a blackout capable of having “a far-reaching and devastating impact” on society.
At least 182 internet shutdowns were reported in 34 countries in 2021, up from 159 in 2020, digital rights group says Access now* based in New York. In 2011, Access Now launched RightsCon, an annual summit on human rights in the digital age that brings together hundreds of organizations opposing government censorship of the Internet.
The United States and partner countries support a open, reliable and secure internet through the Freedom Online Coalition. In 2023, for the first time, the United States will lead this coalition of 34 governments committed to protecting freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly and online privacy for everyone, everywhere.
In addition, US government agencies and the private sector are working with regional partners to expand Internet access. Americas and us Africa. The United States is providing critical cybersecurity assistance Ukraine to help the country stay connected during Russia’s brutal and unjust war.
On June 7, in a speech at the RightsCon conference, Secretary of State Antony Blinken congratulated those working “to make the future of technology and the future of the Internet truly advance freedom and democratic principles and allow us, together, to build a future that reflects the values we share”.