A petition calling on world leaders to publicly commit to keeping the internet on has gathered 45,927 signatures from 148 countries.
Deji Bryce Olukotun, senior global advocacy manager for digital rights group AccessNow - which set up the petition - said: “Internet shutdowns go hand-in-hand with state violence, but the good news is that we know that governments respond to international pressure. This bold statement from Lush supporters and internet users worldwide will step up the fight to end this practice, which harms human rights and economies. We implore all governments to affirm their commitment to keep the internet on.”
On Wednesday 7th 2016, AccessNow and Lush delivered the petition to government leaders at the The Internet Governance Forum (IGF), held in Jalisco, Mexico.
First convened in 2005 by the United Nations General Assembly, the IGF will see United National delegates meeting to discuss the future of the open internet, including questions of how to maximise online opportunities and how to overcome arising risks and challenges.
The U.N. Human Rights Council unequivocally condemned internet blackouts in July 2016, but recent shutdowns like that on the eve of democratic elections in Gambia demonstrate that governments have not unanimously heeded the document. In fact, 2016 saw 50 shutdowns recorded by AccessNow; that’s more than double the 2015 figure.
The #KeepItOn coalition - made up of more than 100 organisations from almost 50 countries - therefore pushes back against shutdowns at all levels: at the United Nations, at government level, and with key stakeholders such as telecommunications companies and investors.
They have celebrated recent victories in The Republic of Chad and Ethiopia as months of restrictions blocking social media were finally lifted.
Now, their work has also been bolstered by the masses. Since Black Friday (which saw 30 Lush websites around the world shut down) the public has demonstrated their opposition to shutdowns by signing the petition to world leaders and picking up the Error 404 bath bomb in Lush shops globally.
It is hoped that £250,000 will be raised in profits from sales of the limited edition bath treat. The resulting digital fund will grant and allocate the proceeds to AccessNow and grassroots digital activists fighting to keep the internet free, open and safe.
Jack Constantine, chief digital officer at Lush, spoke about his motivation for joining the campaign: “As the internet becomes a more integral part of our daily lives, we need to protect these newly forming rights and ensure a fair and equal internet for all.”
The campaign continues to live on at: https://www.accessnow.org/keepiton.