Shutdown Academy

120 mins

Using Strategic Litigation to Combat Internet Shutdowns

Centre for Law and Democracy
This course focuses on how to use strategic litigation to contest the imposition of Internet shutdowns and to seek remedies for disruptions where they do occur. It is designed primarily for campaigners and advocates who are seeking to expand their campaign work by using strategic litigation.
About this course:
Internet shutdowns, whether national or just in parts of a country and whether outright or via slowdowns, have become far more common and widespread over the last 10-15 years. There are different ways to try to combat these types of government action, of which one that has proven useful in a number of countries is using strategic litigation. This can invalidate ongoing shutdowns, set key standards which make future shutdowns less likely, or potentially allocate compensation for harm caused by a shutdown. Strategic litigation is not easy or cheap to undertake but, given the dramatic impacts of Internet shutdowns, it is important to consider it among other options.
What do I learn:
This course outlines key international human rights standards obligations of States in the area of respect for freedom of expression, with a focus on those that are relevant to Internet shutdowns. It then provides a review of the campaign area of strategic litigation, looking at how it differs from ordinary cases, what needs to be considered before engaging in it and the main steps to take to undertake a process of strategic litigation. The course then focuses more specifically on strategic litigation in response to shutdowns, looking at how to design a successful case strategy and the core legal arguments that should be considered.
What do I need to know:
You will benefit more from this course if you start having some basic understanding of the core concepts regarding freedom of expression. You should know something about your country’s constitutional guarantees for this right, what international treaties it has ratified and whether international legal remedies are available to you. You should also be aware of whether your government has engaged in Internet shutdowns, whether nationally or in parts of your country, and how different stakeholders have responded to this.


Toby Mendel

Toby Mendel is the founder and Executive Director of the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD), based in Halifax, Canada. CLD works to promote, protect and develop those human rights which serve as the foundation for or underpin democracy, including the rights to freedom of expression, to vote and participate in governance, to access information and to freedom of assembly and association.

1.1 Introduction to the course
1.2 Introduction to Internet shutdowns
2.1 Overview of key freedom of expression principles
2.2 Restrictions on freedom of expression
2.3 The rights to seek and receive information
2.4 Key freedom of expression principles for shutdowns
2.5 Quiz
3.1 Core Features of strategic litigation vs. ordinary cases
3.2 Key issues to consider before engaging in strategic litigation
3.3 Using strategic litigation to support freedom of expression
3.4 Main steps for running a strategic litigation
4.1 Main benefits and challenges of litigating shutdowns
4.2 How to design a successful case strategy
4.3 Core legal arguments
4.4 Further elaboration of core legal arguments
4.5 Checklist for legal strategy
4.6 Quiz
5.1 Importance of advocacy in this context
5.2 Framework for developing an advocacy strategy
5.3 Case study - MISA Zimbabwe - Helen Sithole
5.4 Key advocacy tools and targets for strategic litigation
5.5 Engaging with the Media
6.1 Common features of the context for Internet shutdowns
6.2 Special challenges for litigating shutdowns
6.3 Common features of the context for Internet shutdowns - Natalia Krapiva
6.4 Tips on responding to challenges
6.5 Quiz
7.1 Conclusion
7.2 Course survey

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