Internet shutdown in Sudan and the IPS revolution

Human Rights Watch  and many international news media outlets are reporting on the very severe conditions that has been the case in Sudan the last two weeks. As people are fighting for their lives, they are meeting authorities who are limiting the access to basic instruments for livelihood. The last couple of days, almost all internet access has been shut down by the Military Council. According to the World Bank, Sudan in 2017 had 31 % of its inhabitants using the Internet. In North Africa, the percentage can be as high as 50 %.

According to UN expert David Kay, when the internet service is shutdown it is “in clear violation of international law and cannot be justified by any means”, at the time in reference to the shutdown of internet service in the December election of 2018 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The internet can be crucial for a democratic system and the technology is normally in countries in the hands of either Governments or the private sector.

Would it be hard to imagine a world where everybody had access to the Internet? To really make internet a human right should be to let an actor outside the internal structure of a country or the economic sector deliver it to people. These times of shutting down internet in political power struggles make it necessary to think about a future where all people in the world have Internet access from an independent actor.

There has been such initiatives, both in thought and in practice, taking place from private companies. Google has for example set out to give Internet access to countries in Africa with the help of big balloons. Facebook has also set out similar plans, recently to join Airbus through high-altitude connectivity.

A newcomer on IPS, Internet Service Provider, but someone with extensive experience in rocket technology and the space industry could revolutionize how we use the Internet. Could it be the same game changer for democracy? It is called Starlink. It is an idea coming from SpaceX and its founder Elon Musk. They want to give the whole world access to the internet within 2 years, starting with north America. Currently, 60 satellites orbit the Earth and many more will do so. Why it is promising is because SpaceX has already had immense success with its reusable rockets, revolutionizing the space industry and their ambitious plans with Starlink has no reason to be neglected as just another idealistic idea to save the world.

At the moment, the Internet access must be restored to the people of Sudan.


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