With the evolution of the internet, the world has also seen a marked increase in government-ordered internet shutdowns and restrictions, sometimes with dubious justifications and sometimes with no justification at all. As people have become increasingly reliant on the internet for their day-to-day activities and to keep up with important news, internet restrictions often disrupt lives and violate people’s civil and human rights. While no international law directly protects internet access, it is implicitly advocated for under the freedom of opinion and expression. The upward trend of internet restrictions, however, suggests that an implied protection of access to a necessary resource is not enough. Greater monitoring and vetting are needed to discourage unnecessary restrictions and to encourage accountability when restrictions are imposed. An international or multilateral treaty is usually accompanied by a treaty committee, which oversees how successfully States parties honor their commitments. Accordingly, a treaty committee would be in a unique position to monitor and vet internet restrictions imposed by States parties, which would discourage the practice of unnecessary internet restrictions. This Note examines recent internet restrictions in India, Ethiopia, and Venezuela with a focus on the reasons given for the restrictions as well as their impact. Rather than simply proposing the establishment and provisions of a multilateral treaty, this Note explores how this treaty could be practicably implemented and monitored by its treaty committee by taking lessons from the existing multilateral treaty framework.
Protecting Internet Access: A Human Rights Treaty Approach,
46 Brook. J. Int'l L.
Available at: https://brooklynworks.brooklaw.edu/bjil/vol46/iss2/12