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 are through internet shutdowns, the disruption of online networks and social media sites, and the blocking and filtering of content. Such interferences represent 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 prohibiting most forms of prior restraint on speech.(2) The American Convention on Human Rights contains a much more explicit prohibition on prior restraints.(3) The justification of any such measure therefore comes with a heavy burden of justification under the three-part test for restrictions on freedom of expression detailed in Module 1.