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Armenia -- Artur Papyan takes part in an online conference in Seoul, 19Mar2024

Experts Gather to Address Internet Shutdowns and Their Impact on Democracy

Seoul, March 19th – A panel of global experts, convened today to discuss the critical issue of internet shutdowns and their impact on democracy and the fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The panel discussions, titled “Access for democracy: Preventing internet shutdowns and strengthening democracy,” was part of the Summit for Democracy Conference held in Seoul on March 18-20, 2024.

The session highlighted the contradiction between the rapid digitization of societies and the continuing practice by some authorities to suspend or throttle internet services during significant national events. With countries representing half of the world’s population heading to polls in 2024, the risk of arbitrary and authoritarian shutdowns looms larger than ever, necessitating a collaborative approach to safeguard internet access.

Speakers, including Kanbar Hossein-Bor from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, Carly Ramsey from Cloudflare, Raman Jit Singh Chima from Access Now, Miraj Chowdhury from Digitally Right Bangladesh, including Artur Papyan from Media Diversity Institute – Armenia, and moderated by Brittany Piovesan of Internews, shared insights and experiences from their work and regions.

Artur Papyan underscored the complexity of identifying internet shutdowns, citing challenges such as differentiating between complete and partial shutdowns, geographical scope, and the technical nuances of internet infrastructure and ISPs, especially in the context of the Nagorno-Karabakh war.

The panel discussed various strategies to combat internet shutdowns, from leveraging statements by bodies like the Freedom Online Coalition to Cloudflare’s transparency reports, which provide crucial data for understanding the occurrence of shutdowns.

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