South Sudan Blocks News Websites

17 July 2017: South Sudan National Communication Authority, the official communication sector regulator in the Eastern Africa country, blocked several websites:

www.sudantribune.com     English & Arabic  [Paris, France]
https://radiotamajuz.org    English & Arabic [Amsterdam, Netherlands]
https://paanluelwel.com    English only  [Washington D.C., US]
http://nyamile.com               English only [British Columbia, Canada]
Continue reading “South Sudan Blocks News Websites”

Kenyan ID Number 0, Please Stand Up!

The Kenyan Elections Management Body, IEBC, hired KPMG to audit the voter register for the upcoming 8 August National elections. Based on the audit report, IEBC was expected to clean up the register ready for the elections. This would involve expunging dead voters or any multiple-entries. They were also relying on the findings of the biometric verification exercise that took place between May 9 – June 9, 2017. Continue reading “Kenyan ID Number 0, Please Stand Up!”

Another Ethiopian Internet Shutdown During National Exams

Ethiopian Internet users woke up to no connectivity, thanks in part to the grade 10 national examinations.

Attempts to reach Internet users in Ethiopia on VOIP calls failed (Viber was used in this case, being the most popular service in Ethiopia) but International calls on GSM were successful. Residents confirmed the Internet disruption, apparently occasioned by rumors of a pending exam leakage.

Data from various open sources on Internet traffic do indeed confirm this. Continue reading “Another Ethiopian Internet Shutdown During National Exams”

If this was my last day…

Casablanca Airspace, Morocco

4 March 2017  | ~ 1200hrs Local Time (UTC)

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I am listening to Tchaivosky 1812 Overture, reading Ron’s Black code (2003) on my laptop after the cabin crew announced the plane has reached safe levels to use electronic gadgets. I am thinking how the new definition presented on globalization in this paper would fare alongside Comin’s technology diffusion model and the role of supply factors in technology adoption. Continue reading “If this was my last day…”

The Cost of ‘Fake News’

In an interview with Der Spiegel, Germany’s Parliamentary Chief of the Social Democratic Party, Thomas Oppermann, has hinted at a proposed legislation meant to combat harms from false news. Official and private complainants will flag content that is considered “fake news” and if after the relevant checks the platforms hosting the ‘fake news’ do not, within 24 hours, delete the offending post then they must reckon with severe penalties of up to 500,000 Euros. Continue reading “The Cost of ‘Fake News’”

At Risk in a Safe Space: Online Threats to the LGBT Community in Kenya

An original study of 18 LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people in Kenya I conducted for this paper revealed the unique ways LGBT people in Kenya rely on the Internet. Data showed that the LGBT community in Kenya, a country that still criminalizes homosexuality, uses the Internet towards three main things:

Safe space to meet other members of the LGBT community and allies (17 out of 18 respondents);

Resources for activism and as a tool to disseminate information (6 out of 18 respondents);

Education, news, health, and other personal improvement resources (14 out of 18 respondents).

But this safe space is being threatened by increasing threats to privacy and security online exposing the LGBT members to public outing and physical violence.

Continue reading “At Risk in a Safe Space: Online Threats to the LGBT Community in Kenya”

The Gambia shuts down the Internet on the eve of Presidential Elections

Internet traffic monitors noticed a sharp drop in Gambian connectivity around 20:00 UTC (8PM local time).  Akamai’s State of the Internet, a reporting platform on the condition of the Internet across the world, reported connections dropping to zero, on the eve of the country’s presidential elections.

Continue reading “The Gambia shuts down the Internet on the eve of Presidential Elections”

Tracking Internet Shutdowns in Africa

In summary, between Jan 1 and September 25, we have documented 13 shutdown instances in 11 countries. Most of the shutdowns are national in nature but we are increasingly seeing regional discrimination of Internet service especially in protest zones. This allows governments to avoid the political and economic consequences that come with national Internet shutdowns but still manage to throttle dissenting voices. That is why there is increasing move towards websites and/or regions.

If you have more data that can help us understand better the nature of these Internet shutdowns, please reach out to me and check out this working data set we are currently using.

Gabon and its invention of ‘Internet Curfew’

Gabon, a Central African country of roughly 1.8 million people, has evidently resorted to an Internet curfew as a form of information control after a disputed election.

Data from open source Internet traffic monitors indicate a daily ritual of Internet shutdown around 7PM which is turned on again around 7AM the following day. This has been going on for the last two weeks (beginning 5 September). Before this unusual information control, the country underwent 4 and a half days of total Internet shutdown. Continue reading “Gabon and its invention of ‘Internet Curfew’”