Skip to main content

Gambia's Election Shutdown

Access Now recently reported that there have been over 50 Internet shutdowns around the world in 2016, compared to 15 known shutdowns the previous year. Many of these shutdowns have taken place in Africa - as seen in a recent Psiphon blog piece documenting a shutdown and social media blocking event in Gabon.

Last week, another shutdown happened in Gambia. Just after 9pm local time on November 30th 2016, we received a message from our friend Moses Karanja, a researcher at the research fellow at the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law (CIPIT) in Kenya. Moses asked if we were able to verify reports he had seen on social media, saying that the Internet was unavailable in Gambia.

From our network monitoring, we could see that there had been a total drop-off in Psiphon traffic at just after 8pm local time. To verify this, we contacted Akamai’s State of the Internet team, to see if they had also seen a drop in traffic. Within a few minutes, they confirmed it for us, and tweeted to let the world know.
We followed this up with our own tweet, showing a similar effect on our network.

This outage occurred on the eve of the country’s presidential election on December 1st. The incumbent, Yahya Jammeh, had warned against people taking part in any protests that would follow an election he expected to win.

Following Jammeh's defeat in the election to Adama Barrow, the candidate chosen to represent seven opposition parties, Internet and telecommunication services began to be restored. The outage was expected to last into Saturday December 3rd, but instead was reversed by 11.30 on Friday December 2nd.

The reporting of the shutdown and confirmation at the network level came about due to close collaboration between the research community and the private sector, and helped to highlight the growing number of Internet shutdowns that are occurring across the world. For more information, read this piece from Moses Karanja, as he continues to track and document Internet shutdowns in Africa.

Popular posts from this blog

Why You Don't Need Google's Domain Fronting

Google’s removal of domain fronting emphasizes the need for solutions like Psiphon. Google has confirmed that they will block domain fronting across Google domains and App Engine. For many apps and publishers, this represents a step backwards in the fight for internet freedom. While Psiphon has never relied on this Google service, many app developers continued to depend on the practice as a convenient and straightforward means of circumventing state-level censorship, despite the long-running speculation that Google would close this loophole (eg. Will Scott’s blog post in 2017). While the announcement has been met with criticism from internet activists and service providers alike, Google has defended their decision, saying “ domain fronting has never been a supported feature ”. Domain fronting has been a popular means of censorship circumvention for several years, being embraced by popular apps like Signal, who publicly adopted the practice in 2016 . While using Google domain

Social Media and Internet Ban in Turkey

Following the detainment of 12 pro-Kurdish lawmakers from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in the early hours of November 4 th , Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, WhatsApp and Skype were blocked in Turkey . There were reports that Turk Telekom internet provider completely disabled access to the internet or throttled the connection to the point that it was impossible to connect. Despite lack of official decision about the restrictions, and BTK’s explanation that there was a technical problem throughout Turkey, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim made a statement later in the day and said “For security reasons, these kinds of measures can be taken time to time. These are temporary measures. Everything goes back to normal after the danger is eliminated.” Social media and internet bans ended the following evening in most of the country, but there were still some short-term connection problems during the weekend in some regions, and it was reported that some Turk Telekom users

Cybernews Interview, Psiphon: “the world is becoming more and more privacy-conscious”

Most of us are aware of the necessity of having strong VPN protection in place. But what are the inherent issues with standard VPN applications, and how can they be solved? While choosing the best VPN often comes down to its features, the problem with many of the modern VPN applications concerns easily recognizable traffic in certain Internet environments despite the implemented end-to-end encryption. But what can be done about it? To discuss this matter, we’ve reached out to Alexis Gantous, a member of the Business Development and Operations team at Psiphon Inc, a company that works on providing uncensored Internet access for Windows and mobile devices. How did the idea of creating Psiphon originate? Psiphon was founded out of a research project at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, founder and CEO Michael Hull saw the opportunity to take the original peer-to-peer system and further develop it to fill the needs of millions around the world who face restrictions to their access t