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Mali's govt blasted over internet disruption

Mali’s govt blasted over internet disruption

The government of Mali has been accused of clamping down on social media and virtual private networks, and restricting internet access to during the country's presidential run-off elections held on 12 August 2018.

On 10 August 2018 subscribers, specifically those in the Eastern regions of Bamako and Gao, experienced difficulty with connectivity.

Global digital rights group Internet Without Borders criticised the country's government and stated: "Mali's main operators have blocked domain names of major social networks. To circumvent these blockages, many Malian internet users have stormed the VPNs that allow to circumvent these restrictions. A technical way to also restrict the use of VPNs is the restriction of traffic. For example, an operator will degrade a network of type '3G' into '2G'."

The Malian Chapter of the Internet Society, ISOC Mali said the disruption "represent an infringement on the freedom of expression and communication of Malians online."

"Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. opinion and expression, which implies the right not to be worried about one's opinions and that of seeking, receiving and spreading, without frontier considerations, information and ideas by any means of expression whatsoever," ISOC Mali stated.

Internet censorship has been on the rise in Africa and ITWeb Africa has reported internet outages in Gabon, DR Congo, Togo, Niger, Cameroon, Central African Republic and Ethiopia.

While the governments in the African countries argued the restrictions were meant to ensure national security, opposition described it as an attempt to control information circulation.

The Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa estimated that "over a combined period of 236 days since 2015, internet interruptions in Africa led to deficits of at least over US$235 million."

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