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[Commlist] IJoC Publishes a Special Section on Internet Shutdowns in Africa

Fri Aug 14 12:08:33 GMT 2020

International Journal of Communication
Publishes a Special Section on Internet Shutdowns in Africa
There is an evolution underway in how information controls are perceived and
understood. The view that Internet access should be a fundamental right has
gained traction, but concerns are increasing about the very real threat
posed by the dissemination of misinformation and hate speech online. This
Special Section on Internet Shutdowns in Africa looks at these tensions
within the context of one particularly extreme solution to perceived online
threats: Shutting off Internet access. It wades into the fierce debate
between advocacy groups that condemn shutdowns as evidence of governments
seeking to stifle political dissent, and governments that argue they are
increasingly powerless to contain hate speech on social media platforms that
are slow to respond to grievances from the global south.
 This Special Section emerged from a conference on Internet shutdowns in
Africa by the Programme in Comparative Media Law & Policy at the University
of Oxford’s Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, and the School of
Communications at the University of Johannesburg.  Some of the pieces are
the culmination of ideas presented there, while others come from scholars
unable to attend, but whose research pushes forward our understanding of
Internet shutdowns in important ways. Although Internet shutdowns have now
occurred across nearly all continents, they are on the rise in Africa where
some of the longest shutdowns have taken place. Drawing from research across the continent, this Special Section probes the
boundaries around what is an Internet shutdown. More than simply intentional
government orders to shut off Internet access, the articles included here
capture the variations in how Internet shutdowns actually come about and are
experienced. For example: How do we understand social media taxes and their impact on the ability to
access the Internet, or Internet blackouts instigated by hacker or private
sector companies rather than governments? Together, the authors, coming from law, communications, political science,
and human rights, make a compelling case for the reconceptualization of
Internet shutdowns and their relationship to other forms of information

(This Special Section emerges from ongoing research from the European
Research Council project, ConflictNet ‘The Politics and Practice of Social
Media in Conflict’ at the University of Oxford.)
 We invite you to read these seven articles that published in the
International Journal of Communication on August 13, 2020. Please go to to access these papers of interest.
 The Changing Landscape of Internet Shutdowns in Africa—Introduction
Eleanor Marchant, Nicole Stremlau

Internet Shutdowns and the Limits of the Law Giovanni De Gregorio, Nicole Stremlau
 State-Ordered Internet Shutdowns and Digital Authoritarianism in Zimbabwe
Admire Mare

Dissent Does Not Die in Darkness: Network Shutdowns and Collective Action in

African Countries
Jan Rydzak, Moses Karanja, Nicholas Opiyo

The Slow Shutdown: Information and Internet Regulation in Tanzania From 2010

to 2018 and Impacts on Online Content Creators  Lisa Parks, Rachel Thompson

“Don’t Tax My Megabytes”: Digital Infrastructure and the Regulation of
Citizenship in Africa  Clovis Bergère

A Spectrum of Shutdowns: Reframing Internet Shutdowns From Africa Eleanor Marchant, Nicole Stremlau

Larry Gross                                                        Editor
 Arlene Luck
Managing Editor         Guest Editors
Eleanor Marchant, Nicole Stremlau

According to the latest statistics from Google Scholar, IJoC ranks 2nd among
all Humanities, Literature & Arts journals, and 4th among all Communication
International Journal of Communication (IJoC)
USC Annenberg Press
University of Southern California
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