NetBlocks and the Internet Society launch tool to calculate the cost of Internet censorship worldwide

10 DECEMBER 2018 — A new tool to support internet freedom is being launched by NetBlocks with help from The Internet Society, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the development and evolution of the Internet.

Launch COSTRun the Cost of Shutdown Tool

The organisations have partnered up for the launch of COST, a tool that seeks to measure the economic cost of internet disruptions to support the adoption of rights-based internet governance around the world.

The NetBlocks Cost of Shutdown Tool (COST) launches to mark the 70th Anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights enacted by the United Nations on December 10, 1948.

COST is a data-driven policy tool that automates the task of assessing the economic impact of internet shutdowns, mobile data blackouts and social media restrictions including throttling.

COST performs calculations by country, type of disruption and length of time, combining thousands of development indicators in real time to offer insights into the impact of internet governance and misgovernance on sustainable development, human rights and digital prosperity.

“This tool will empower the next stage of data-driven advocacy. By calculating numbers in real time, COST will allows us to communicate to governments and technology companies on how much revenue they’re losing when they disrupt the internet. We hope by the tool will make governments think twice before threatening internet freedom,” said an advocacy manager for NetBlocks.

“ We believe the opportunities brought by the Internet should be available for everyone and a tool such as COST can help governments understand the economic impact of shutting down or blocking the Internet.  While we can’t quantify the human cost of switching off the Internet, this helps quantify the economic cost,” explains Constance Bommelaer de Leusse, Senior Director Global Internet Policy for The Internet Society.

The COST tool is built upon established research papers published by the Brookings Institution for global coverage and a specialised model by CIPESA for sub-Saharan Africa, taking into account indirect economic factors and informal economies that play a major role in the region. Economic indicators are integrated from open data sources including the World Bank, ITU and Eurostat.

The COST tool has already made a significant impact on advocacy and policy work on the matter of internet disruptions during its development phase. COST calculated that a shutdown in Sri Lanka during protests led to an estimated loss of $30,000,000 USD, supporting community efforts to change policies that harm the right to free expression, free assembly and free association. In Iraq, multi-day outages cost the economy an estimated $40,000,000 USD, with the COST analysis making impact broadly from local vendors to the oil industry. In August, the COST pre-release version indicated that a shutdown in Ethiopia cost 3,500,000 birr, a key figure that was cited in letters addressed to state officials.

About COST

COST is part of the NetBlocks lineup of internet freedom policy tools and can be accessed at The system can work online and offline as a progressive web application even when the user has no internet connection.

About NetBlocks

NetBlocks is an internet watchdog founded by technologist Alp Toker, working at the intersection of digital rights, cyber security and internet governance. The platform monitors internet disruptions globally in real time through its Internet Observatory, providing innovative technology and policy solutions to advance human rights in the digital age.

About the Internet Society

Founded by Internet pioneers, the Internet Society (ISOC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution and use of the Internet. Working through a global community of chapters and members, the Internet Society collaborates with a broad range of groups to promote the technologies that keep the Internet safe and secure, and advocates for policies that enable universal access. The Internet Society is also the organizational home of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).