During the Arab Spring protests, the Egyptian government’s five-day shutdown of the country’s internet cost an estimated $90 million as it crippled Egypt’s digital economy. Since then, countries around the world have increasingly employed internet shutdowns and social media blockages to stifle internal unrest and handle societal issues, but the economic effects of these measures remain relatively unknown.
On October 6, the Governance Studies program at Brookings hosted an expert panel moderated by Darrell West, vice president and director of the Center for Technology Innovation, to discuss the impact of internet shutdowns on national economies. How widespread and frequent have they become? To what extent have they damaged domestic economies? And what will be the long-term consequences of a growing trend towards internet shutdowns? In conjunction with the event, Governance Studies released a paper estimating the economic costs of such internet blackouts over the past year.
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We have become so dependent on technology — we use it for our groceries, we tap into it for our health care. And these companies have created a new stream of jobs, as we’ve seen other industries disrupted over the course of not just the pandemic, but the last few years. [...] We’re missing opportunities when we dismiss the potential of technology, not just from a consumption standpoint, but from a production and development standpoint.