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Governments all over the world, increasingly, use internet disruptions, including shutdowns, as a tool to prevent information sharing and popular mobilization during political crises, elections, or periods of conflict. From 2018 to 2019 the number of countries in the world that saw an internet shutdown lasting longer than a week increased from 11 to 35. Of these, several are African countries including Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Sudan, and Zimbabwe.

Many of these states have often cited the need to preserve public order and national security as the basis for their disruption of digital communications as well as the necessity to control fake news, misinformation, and hate speech. Internet shutdowns and disruptions negatively impact media freedom, often undermining the ability of journalists to gather and impart information, to file reports, contact sources, or verify stories. They draw attention to a larger story, the Internet becoming a powerful tool with huge impact on press freedom, human rights, and democracy.

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  • Paul Kimumwe | Senior Program Officer, Research and Advocacy, Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), Uganda
  • Jimmy Kainja | Lecturer, Media, Communication and Cultural Studies, University of Malawi, Malawi
  • Henry Maina, Freedom of Expression, Media Regulation Consultant, Kenya

  • Nikos Panagiotou, Associate Professor, School of Journalism and Mass Media Communication, Aristotle University, Digital Communication Network Global, Greece.
  • Aurra Kawanzaruwa, Director, Africa is Digital, Board Member Digital Communication Network Africa, Zimbabwe.

This event is co-organized by the Digital Communication Network Global, DCN Africa and World Learning and is part of a series of virtual events launched in the context of the COVID-19 crisis. The series aims to engage digital communities globally, to promote accurate information, combat distortions, encourage responsible behavior, and discourage panic, support mitigation of a global pandemic, and avoid major societal disruptions. DCN Global is supported by the U.S. Department of State Office of Citizen Exchanges.

DCN Global  is a consortium of non-profits, public and private organizations and companies involved in the fields of digital communication, social impact campaigns, technology, and innovation. It is a unique, interdisciplinary coalition tapping into the best talent and resources across Europe.