Global Freedom of Expression

Factsheet on Internet Shutdowns in International Law

Key Details

  • Region
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    Internet Shutdowns

Factsheet on Internet Shutdowns in International Law

Prepared by Joan Barata, Senior Legal Fellow at Future of Free Speech Project, Justitia

This Factsheet is meant to complement our Special Collection paper Internet Shutdowns in International Law, by focusing on the international standards linked to internet shutdowns and the relevant case law in this regard at the national and international levels. Jurisprudence on internet shutdowns is relatively scarce since very few of the cases being litigated focus on the human rights dimension of such practices. Most relevant judgments in this area can be found in the Columbia Global Freedom of Expression Case Law database. For complete access to all our internet shutdowns case analyses, readers can click here and learn more about how internet shutdowns are manifesting around the world.

Even though shutdowns are barriers to universal access to the internet and sustainable development, impeding freedom of expression and the right of access to information according to basic international human rights instruments, States have found reasons to uphold them in the name of public interest to protect national security and public order. This Factsheet features international and regional standards applicable to internet shutdowns, reflecting on the modern arguments —such as disinformation, propaganda, or cyber-attacks from abroad— that are used to justify them.

The Factsheet also focuses on the most important case law decisions on this matter, both on regional and national levels, and analyzes other relevant legal instruments. These norms and standards include international human rights law, views of intergovernmental organizations, international and human rights mechanisms, and experts’ opinions aimed as a guide for a better understanding of internet shutdowns.


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