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Human rights violation worsens in Africa as governments use ‘kill-switch’, enforce internet censorship

The most populous black country, Nigeria, saw the sharpest drop in internet freedom in 2021, while other African countries: Burkina Faso, Sri Lanka, and Zimbabwe are in the worst conditions for fettered online access and speech.

A global longitudinal study conducted by Surfshark, an Amsterdam-based cybersecurity firm revealed that Africa has had 88 internet restriction cases since 2015, the most censored region worldwide in 2020 and 2021. 38 cases happened because of protests.

Internet disruption is a weapon by the government to silence citizens’ unrest which remains worryingly high, we reports. These cases are of national or local magnitude where the internet is slowed or completely shut down, leaving billions of people without most of their communication means. The most common reasons for censorship were political turmoil and protests.

Out of 72 internet disruption cases worldwide in the first half of 2022, social media platforms were targeted six times, which is twice in Europe and Africa, once in Asia and South America. Research co-created by Surfshark and NetBlocks shows that Asia is the most censorship-intensive region worldwide, while Africa follows.

According to the research, there were 66 internet blackouts in six countries — Internet was shut down locally in three countries and territories (India, the Jammu and Kashmir region, and Pakistan) while in Burkina Faso, Kazakhstan, and Sudan — internet connections were cut down nationwide.

“Governments in an increasing number of countries in Africa are implementing internet shutdowns as a tool to assert or maintain control over populations,” Felicia Anthonio, #KeepItOn Campaign Manager at Access Now, a global human rights organization told us. “These unjustifiable acts of dominance violate fundamental rights and democratic freedoms,” she added.

 

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