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Cameroon accused of meddling with the internet

Allegations of a continued assault on the internet by the government of Cameroon in the Northwest and Southwest regions of the country has now been corroborated by content delivery network and cloud services provider Akamai.

The US-based company says it noted Internet disruption in Cameroon last week following alleged blackouts directed by the government.

Akamai has shared illustrations on social media showing that traffic to the country first dropped sharply at around 20:45 UTC on 17 January 2017.

"Tuesday's Internet disruption in Cameroon lasted just over an hour - ~21:45-23:00 UTC, with @Akamai traffic levels returning to normal." which monitors Internet data and issues quarterly global trend reports on connection speeds, broadband adoption, mobile usage, and attack traffic.

Confirmation of the internet shutdown comes after the government of Cameroon sent warnings about the possibility jail time and fines to citizens for information that they post on social media.

The country's mobile network operators - MTN Cameroon, Orange Cameroun and Nexttel - sent messages on behalf of Cameroon's Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MINPOSTEL) to subscribers warning that they would "incur 6 months to two years imprisonment, and 5 to 10 million fine if you publish or spread on the social media, information that you can't prove..."

Philisiwe Sibiya, CEO of MTN Cameroon, has since denied allegations by subscribers that the messages are a sign that operators are cowering to the government and compromising the privacy of their subscribers.

"As our principal Regulator, the Minister of Post & Telecommunications (MINPOSTEL) may from time to time request telecom operators to carry messages on their networks intended for the general public. This was the case recently when MTN Cameroon, along with other operators, broadcast a message from MINSPOTEL regarding the use of the internet."

Cameroon's optic fibre, which the three operators rely on to provide services to subscribers in the country is managed government owned Cameroon Telecommunications (CAMTEL).

Violation of a 'basic human right'

An online petition addressed to Cameroon's Minister of Post and Telecommunications Cameroon, Li Likeng Minette Libom and the United Nations Security Council has been launched in the last twenty four hours through Avaaz Community Petitions.

The petition has been signed more than 700 times. Its creator 'Emmanuel A.' writes that the internet is a basic human right which all governments need to respect.

"We hope the Cameroon government can bring back the internet to the people. The citizens of North West and South West Region of Cameroon for the past 3 months have been protesting against marginalisation. The internet and Facebook have been one of the successful ways to protest against the government and for citizens to express their grievances. On the 18th of January the government disrupted the internet access in these regions."

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