Internet Society Statement on Potential Destabilization of the Internet in Africa

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The Internet Society is closely following the current situation of the African Network Information Center (AFRINIC). We are concerned that any interruption in AFRINIC’s operations due to ongoing litigation could have a significant negative impact on not only the stability of the African Internet registry, but also on the billions of people who use the Internet worldwide.

AFRINIC operates a number of services that are critical for the functioning and the security of the Internet globally. Any destabilization of AFRINIC will therefore have a knock-on effect not only on the Internet in Africa but everywhere. AFRINIC also manages resources for African Internet operators and any disruption in operations, even for a limited time, could impact over 452 million African Internet users.

The short and long-term social and economic effects of such an outcome on African nations, at a time when the Internet has become a lifeline in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, would be detrimental to recovery efforts. We therefore urge all the concerned authorities and parties to take into consideration the gravity of the situation, and treat the matter with the utmost care to avoid or limit any harm to the Internet in Africa and beyond.

Medical researchers, loved ones, and even work acquaintances would have been hard to reach, or even worse, cut off. There would have been a total stop to education, with young people losing a crucial year. Our society would have been faced with a terrible choice between economic or medical collapse. The Internet did not make everything perfect. This year has shown us that nothing could. But without it, we would have fared much worse. The Internet is a force for good in society, for sure.

At the start of 2020, the Internet Society reaffirmed our goals for the Internet to be open, globally-connected, secure, and trustworthy.

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