The monitoring and observation of internet activity during elections plays a crucial role in ensuring digital integrity, preventing disruptions and shutdowns, mitigating potential cyber attacks on critical infrastructure, and promoting effective internet governance and digital policy.
The NetBlocks Election Pathfinder program has been at the forefront of tracking network disruptions and analyzing their causes and impacts before, during, and after elections. This initiative works in collaboration with the global NetBlocks community, election observation missions, and independent observers on the ground. Here, we provide an overview of the program’s objectives, methodologies, and publications related to internet disruptions during elections.
The primary objectives of the NetBlocks Election Pathfinder program are:
- Detection and Deterrence: Identifying and exposing internet disruptions and shutdowns during election periods to discourage their recurrence.
- Protection of Critical Infrastructure: Mitigating potential internet-based attacks on critical infrastructure by monitoring network activity and promptly reporting any suspicious incidents.
- Improving Internet Governance: Offering recommendations and insights to enhance internet governance and digital policy frameworks, thereby fostering a secure and inclusive digital environment during elections.
The NetBlocks Election Pathfinder program employs a comprehensive methodology that combines human and technical reporting, visualizations, and impact assessments. This multidimensional approach ensures accurate and reliable monitoring of internet disruptions during elections. The program’s Rapid Response initiative utilizes a sub-methodology specifically designed to rapidly document emergent incidents related to internet disruptions in real-time.
Collaboration and Partnerships
The NetBlocks Election Pathfinder program works in close collaboration with various stakeholders to fulfill its objectives. These include:
- Global NetBlocks Community: Engaging with a diverse network of experts, researchers, and organizations to leverage their collective knowledge and expertise in monitoring internet disruptions.
- Election Observation Missions: Collaborating with official election observation missions to provide valuable insights and data on internet disruptions, contributing to a comprehensive assessment of the electoral process.
- Independent Observers: Partnering with independent observers on the ground who contribute firsthand information about local internet disruptions during elections.
Reports and Publications
The NetBlocks Election Pathfinder program produces comprehensive reports and publications to document and analyze internet disruptions during elections. These reports incorporate both human and technical reporting, providing detailed visualizations and impact assessments. Methodological summaries are included to ensure transparency and facilitate further research. The program’s work has been cited by independent press, governmental entities, and academic institutions, attesting to its credibility and influence.
To access a comprehensive list of NetBlocks publications on internet shutdowns and network observation missions during elections, please visit the Elections tag.
International Framework References
The NetBlocks Election Pathfinder program aligns its work with established international frameworks and guidelines to ensure its methodologies and recommendations are rooted in best practices. These include:
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR): Upholding the principles of freedom of expression and access to information during elections, as stated in Article 19 of the ICCPR.
- The Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa: Adhering to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights’ declaration, which emphasizes the importance of maintaining internet freedom and preventing unwarranted restrictions during electoral processes.
- Internet Governance Forum (IGF): Engaging in discussions and collaborations within the IGF community to promote effective internet governance and policy development in the context of elections.
By adhering to these international frameworks, the NetBlocks Election Pathfinder program aims to contribute to the establishment of a secure and transparent digital environment during elections worldwide.
Learn more about the Election Pathfinder program from at the 2019 Norad Conference for digitalisation and development hosted by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation: