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#KeepItOn: internet shutdowns during COVID-19 will help spread the virus! #ReconnectTheWestETH March 26, 2020

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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#KeepItOn: internet shutdowns during COVID-19 will help spread the virus!

17 MARCH 2020 | 9:27 AMTweetShare

As the world deals with the spread of COVID-19 (“coronavirus”), reliable, correct information is one of the most important tools people have to protect themselves. Access to accurate information will save lives, help us protect ourselves and our loved ones, and allow us to carry on and care for one another in our communities. During this crisis and beyond, an accessible, secure, and open internet will play a significant role in keeping us safe

Attempts by governments to cut or restrict access to the internet, block social media platforms or other communications services, or slow down internet speed deny people access to information, just when it is of paramount importance that we stop the spread of the virus. As part of the global #KeepItOn coalition, we reiterate:  any and all deliberate interference with the right to access and share information — a human right and vital to any public health and humanitarian response to COVID-19 —  must end immediately

#Ethiopia – join the call on Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed  to restore access to the internet in the Oromia region 

Since January 2019, Ethiopia has imposed an internet shutdown in the Oromia region, amid conflict between government forces and armed groups. The spread of COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic, and Ethiopia has since confirmed several cases. There are already many people in quarantine and self-isolation. Amid fears of the spread of the virus, the government has been publishing content online, and traditional news media outlets are instructing citizens on handwashing and hygiene and other precautionary measures. 

Publishing information online and via the media makes sense, but the government is also denying access to this valuable information to the population affected by internet shutdowns, and as a result, that population may further escalate the spread of the virus. As we have seen in recent days in China, governments can block access to information regarding COVID-19. In blocking such information, there are severe consequences for public health. Unless people take action, these consequences will only get more severe with the passage of time. We therefore call on the government of Ethiopia and particularly Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, to restore free and full access to the internet in the Oromia region immediately and keep it on.