By Joan Barata and Andrei Richter

This paper contributes to the discussions surrounding the internet and the challenges of its regulation. It is divided into two parts. Part one documents the international standards that have emerged pertaining to internet shutdowns, and part two explores the relevant case law at the national and international levels. The authors compile and reiterate what has become an international dogma of access to internet being an enabler of human rights. International mandates provide definition of the shutdowns and enumerate their threats to the whole palette of human rights. They draw the line between blanket shutdowns and specific forms of online censorship. Shutdowns are barriers to the universal access to the internet and to sustainable development, they abort freedom of expression and the right of access to information. Nevertheless, States find reasons to introduce internet shutdowns in the name of public interests to protect national security and public order. The paper reflects the international standards on the related modern arguments to justify shutdowns, such as disinformation and propaganda, as well as in situations of an imminent cyberattack from abroad.

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