Interferences with Access to the Internet
Module 3: Access to the Internet
Some of the ways in which access to the internet is interfered with is through internet shutdowns, the disruption of online networks and social media sites, and the blocking and filtering of content. Such interferences can pose severe restrictions on the enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression, as well as the enjoyment of a range of other rights and services (including mobile banking, online trade and the ability to access government services via the internet).
The act of disrupting or blocking access to internet services and websites amounts to a form of prior restraint. Prior restraints are State actions that prohibit speech or other forms of expression before they can take place.(1) Due to the profound chilling effect prior restraint can have on the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) has been interpreted as effectively providing for the prohibition of most forms of prior restraint on speech.(2) The American Convention on Human Rights contains a similar prohibition.(3) It is therefore imperative that, in order for any such measure to be permissible, it must be able to comply with the three-part limitations test detailed in Module 1.