Week in Review: April 6, 2018

by Dan Bateyko

Sierra Leone faces network disruptions

Sierra Leone faced two separate network disruptions last week, according to The Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI) in a post published this week. OONI and Dyn suggested that the first network disruption occurred due to a fault in a submarine cable, while the second disruption, which followed soon after Sierra Leone’s runoff election, could be an Internet blackout.

A Dyn Research post provides details into the first outage. On March 30, several countries faced network disruptions after an African Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable was damaged between Dakar and Nouakchott. The source of the damage has not been reported at the time of publishing. In Mauritania, the disruption caused a 48 hour outage of services.

In a Twitter thread, DYN and OONI shared traffic data regarding the April 1 disruptions, which give evidence that the second disruption was discrete from the first outage. Google traffic data originating from Sierra Leone to Google search shows no Internet traffic after the runoff elections. According to the OONI report, Sierra Leone’s telecommunications regulatory body denied reports of a shutdown.

Chad blocks social media

According to a press statement from Internet without Borders, Chad has shutdown social media such as Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, and Viber, as well as news outlets like the BBC. The Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI) performed measurement tests that collaborated the reports of an Internet shutdown.

This latest block appears as a trend in Chad limiting Internet access, including the notable shutdown of Internet access for 48 hours during the 2016 presidential elections. For further background reading, visit The Internet Monitor Week in Review coverage of Chad’s January Internet shutdown here.

China bans the online sale of the Bible

Chinese officials banned the sale of the Bible by leading online retailers such as JD.com, Alibaba’s Taobao, and Amazon, reports the New York Times. The measures to limit Bible sales come on the heels of new religious regulations on Christianity and Islam, seen to be part of President Xi Jinping’s embrace of China’s traditional religions.

A Quartz article on the new regulation shows Chinese Internet users sharing screenshots of their conversations with bookshop owners, who claimed that the online retailers did not provide reason for the changes in policy. Storybook versions of the Bible as well as other religious texts, such as Buddhist sutras and the Quran, are still available by the retailers.