NetBlocks unveils new COST project at RightsCon 2018

TORONTO — On 16 Мay, 2018 at RightsCon, NetBlocks is presenting its new technology project, The Cost of Shutdown Tool (COST). In collaboration with the Internet Society, NetBlocks is developing a tool to better measure the cost of Internet shutdowns, mobile data blackouts and social media restrictions.

COST at RightsCon 2018

The panel which draws on the expertise of the KeepItOn coalition against internet shutdowns, includes Nighat Dad, Founder and Director of the Digital Rights Foundation, Melody Patry, Advocacy Director with Access Now, Alp Toker, Founder and Executive Director of NetBlocks, Isik Mater, Director of Research at Turkey Blocks, and Ashnah Kalemera of CIPESA. The session will be moderated by journalist and analyst, Arzu Geybullaeva.

Previous reports estimate that in 2016 Internet shutdowns cost globally about $2.4 billion USD, and across 10 African countries they led to loss of $237 million USD over 236 days. Executive Director, Alp Toker, will discuss how the new data-driven policy tool
will automate the task of economic estimation of a shut down, using regional indicators from the World Bank, ITU, Eurostat and U.S. Census.

During development, three algorithms formulated by the Brookings Institution, Deloitte and CIPESA were evaluated to help quantify the data. As a result, the latest economic methodology follows the Brookings Institution method most closely and focuses on open data sources. Through the early development of COST, trials used historic data and historic reports to validate the methodology.

Ease of use

The user will only need to select their (1) geographic region and extent, such as town name, city or country (2) impacted services, which may be a full internet blackout, or just specific social media / communications platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, WhatsApp or Skype and (3) the duration of the incident.

“COST will enable anyone – including journalists, researchers, advocates, policy makers, businesses, and many others – to quickly and easily estimate the economic cost of Internet disruptions.” NetBlocks executive director says,

Early trials of the tool indicated that Sri Lanka created a $30,000,000 collateral dent to its economy in an attempt to quell riots over the course of just a few days.

“If we don’t act now, shutdowns and restrictions of access will continue to rise and the economic cost will increase over the next few years. At a time where developing countries can benefit the most from Internet access for economic growth, education and health, we cannot let this situation become the new normal.” Toker explains.

COST is set to launch in September 2018.


For inquiries: contact@netblocks.org