Sudan Became the 12th country in Africa to Block the Internet Amid Protests

The internet was disrupted amid protests against military junta

A significant internet service disruption was recorded on multiple providers across Sudan on June 30. According to cybersecurity company Surfshark, Sudan faced the first significant internet disruption this year. It became the 12th country in Africa to block the internet among protests over the past seven years. This time the internet service disruption occurred as protesters took to the streets to call for a civilian-led government in opposition to the military junta that took power in the October 2021 coup.

“This morning, when restrictions came into effect across multiple mobile and fixed-line internet providers, national connectivity in Sudan reached only 17% of ordinary levels. The incident significantly limits coverage of events on the ground and therefore has a disproportionate impact on fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression and freedom of assembly,” says Gabriele Racaityte, Head of PR at Surfshark.

Targeted internet disruptions, including shutdowns and social media restrictions, had gone together with political turmoil in Sudan since 2018, when protests transitioned to civilian rule. Nevertheless, this is the first time the internet was blocked due to protests against the military junta, making Sudan the 12th country in Africa to put online network restrictions because of this very reason.

The military junta has used various techniques to silence opposition voices, including network disruptions, social media restrictions, and telecommunications blackouts since October 2021. During the country’s most prolonged recorded network disruption, Sudan restricted social media for 68 days to stop the protests and shut down Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp. A more extensive mobile internet shutdown restricting more than just social media left Sudan offline for 36 days in July 2019.This year, the internet was systematically restricted at least 10 times in 8 countries (Burkina Faso, India, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Russia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Zimbabwe). 5 out of 10 cases happened in Africa, while the rest occurred in Asia.

Since 2015, 31 out of 54 countries (57%) in Africa, including Sudan, have blocked access to social media platforms. The research shows that 53% of affected countries in the region experienced blockings related to elections and 38% to political protests.

Over the last seven years, systematic social media restrictions have been reported in 1 out of 3 countries worldwide. Most outages have also been related to political or societal events such as elections, referendums, and protests.

For a complete social media and internet censorship report, please visit https://surfshark.com/social-media-blocking.

NOTES TO EDITORS : Surfshark is a privacy protection toolset developed to help its users control their online presence seamlessly. The Surfshark One suite includes one of the very few VPNs audited by independent security experts, an officially certified antivirus, a private search tool, and a data leak alert system. In 2021, Surfshark was recognized as the Most Innovative Security Service at the Cybersecurity Excellence Awards and a Must-have App in TechRadar’s WFH Awards. Visit our research hub at: surfshark.com/research

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