Topic: Government Controlled Blackouts
Chair: Jewel Pauly
Director: Aaron Greenstein
Rapporteur: Ben Esenther
In modern times, social media and the internet have become powerful tools in the hands of dissidents. Those who want to work against a country can organize online and spread their message extremely effectively through social media. Many authoritarian countries facing dissent see this as a threat to their regime and have found various ways to control online protest.
In extreme cases, countries can create a total blackout that stops all internet access in the country. They can also accomplish a similar effect with bandwidth throttling. Bandwidth throttling makes internet access so slow that it is effectively unusable. This can be a more subtle method as people often think that their service is just bad, not that the internet has been intentionally shut down throughout the country. Content blocks can also be used to control internet use. Content blocks block access to specific sites such as Facebook or Wikipedia.
Controlled blackouts can sometimes be an extremely effective way of limiting organized protest. Other times they merely anger dissidents even more. Blackouts also have a hugely negative effect on the economy. They stop commerce and discourage investors who fear that more blackouts will follow.
Recently, the Sudanese government shut down the internet during the ongoing protests. Ethiopia also recently caused a blackout after the assassination of six government officials. Many other governments regularly use content blocks to censor cites, such as Turkey, which has blocked Wikipedia since 2017.
In this assembly, delegates will debate how government controlled blackouts should be dealt with under UN law. Some argue that the internet falls under the sovereignty of the nation while others say that it is a human right and must be protected by UN regulations.
Link to Background Guide: Coming soon!
MEET YOUR CHAIR
Jewel Pauly is currently a student at the Advanced Math and Science Academy.