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Article

2 Jan 2019

Author:
Yousef Saba & Nafisa Eltahir, Reuters

Sudan restricts social media access to counter protest movement

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Sudanese authorities are blocking access to popular social media platforms used to organize and broadcast nationwide anti-government protests triggered by an economic crisis, internet users say... Users of the three main telecommunications operators in the country — Zain, MTN and Sudani — said access to Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp has only been possible through use of a virtual private network (VPN)... NetBlocks, a digital rights NGO, said data it collected, including from thousands of Sudanese volunteers, provided evidence of “an extensive internet censorship regime”. Bader al-Kharafi, CEO of parent company Zain Group, told Reuters: “Some websites may be blocked for technical reasons beyond the company’s specialization.”

Neither the National Telecommunications Corporation, which oversees the sector in Sudan, nor MTN or Sudani could be reached for comment. Twitter and Facebook, which also owns WhatsApp, declined to comment. “While Sudan has a long history of systematically censoring print and broadcast media, online media has been relatively untouched despite its exponential growth... in recent years,” said Mai Truong of U.S.-based advocacy group Freedom House. “The authorities have only now started to follow the playbook of other authoritarian governments.”