Everyone has the right to use the Internet and digital technologies in relation to freedom of assembly and association, including through social networks and platforms. No restrictions on usage of and access to the Internet and digital technologies in relation to the right to freedom of assembly and association may be imposed unless the restriction is prescribed by law, pursues a legitimate aim as expressly listed under international human rights law (as specified in Principle 3 of this Declaration) and is necessary and proportionate in pursuance of a legitimate aim.
The Internet can augment the opportunities and capabilities of individuals and groups to form associations and to manage organisations and associations. It can increase the membership and reach of associations by allowing groups of people to communicate despite physical boundaries. It provides new tools for those organising assemblies offline, as well as the possibility of conducting assemblies and protests online. Hence, everyone should enjoy unrestricted access to the Internet. Any shutting down or blocking of access to social networking platforms, and in fact the Internet in general, constitutes a direct interference with this right. Free and open access to the Internet must therefore be protected at all times.
A coalition of some 35 civil society organisations has written to several international bodies including the African Union and the United Nations Human Rights Council over the recent internet shutdown in Togo.
The report presents the findings of a study on what governments are doing to inhibit citizens’ access to ICT, for example content blocks, censorship, filtering, infrastructure control, law-making, court cases; how governments are using ICT activity and data to monitor citizens; and how government bodies and functionaries are using propaganda, impersonation, threats, cloning, and other tactics to shape online conte
This research was carried out by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) as part of the OpenNet Africa initiative (www.opennetafrica.org), which monitors and promotes Internet freedom in Africa.