The United Nations Human Rights Council has passed a resolution condemning internet shutdowns, as happened in Uganda, Congo-Brazzaville and Chad during elections this year.
The resolution was passed despite reservation from some countries.
The landmark document renews a 2012 and 2014 resolution that declared that human rights apply online just as they do offline.
The #KeepitOn campaign, an initiative by a digital advocacy group Access Now, welcomed the news.
“Internet shutdowns harm everyone and allow human rights crackdowns to happen in the dark, with impunity, [and] citizens can’t participate fully in democratic discourse during elections,” said Deji Olukotun of Access Now.
President Museveni’s government said it restricted access to the internet during February’s election for security reasons.
Museveni insisted that social media was blocked during the election to “stop spreading lies”.
Uganda Communications Commision , the telecoms regulator ordered mobile phone operators just to block certain sites.
So people couldn’t use Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and mobile money services.
People have used Virtual Private Networks to get around internet blockades.
Former presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi even tweeted on the day of the election a recommendation to download a VPN app called Tunnel Bear.
The top 12 apps people were downloading in Uganda four days after the election were still VPN apps, according to analysts App Annie.
But Congo-Brazzaville and Chad cut off the whole internet and telephone which meant people couldn’t use this technique.
VPNs get round government censorship by redirecting your internet activity to a computer in a different country, where the blocks have not been imposed.