Last week, a court in Indonesia ruled that internet shutdowns which the government had imposed in Papua and West Papua in 2019 were illegal. The shutdowns were a part of the government’s strategy — which also included the use of excessive force — to suppress protests in August and September 2019 after an incident in which state security forces were filmed using racist language and attacking Papuan students. The shutdowns and accompanying mobile network disruptions prevented residents of the regions from exercising their freedom to assemble, keeping in touch with loved ones, and accessing important information relevant to their safety.
Two Spring 2020 Cyberlaw Clinic students, Sungjoo Ahn and Sarah Rutherford, worked with Assistant Director Jessica Fjeld to support Access Now in filing an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs, a group of civil society organizations focused on protecting journalism and free expression, who filed suit against the Ministry of Communication and Information of the Republic of Indonesia and the Indonesian President.
The Clinic is proud to support the work of the #KeepItOn campaign in building up legal precedent around the world in support of the rights of internet users, in line with our core values of promoting of a robust and inclusive online ecosystem for free expression and ensuring access to knowledge and information. In the current moment, when widespread protests against systemic racism are coincident with a global pandemic, the central role of the internet and digital tools in ensuring that people are able to access reliable information and connect with one another could not be clearer.