Since March 2018, people in the Republic of Chad have been systematically cut off from Internet by the nation’s government. The Internet shutdown continues despite a 2016 UN resolution condemning governments that intentionally prevent or disrupt online access. Chadian service providers claim that the extended lack of service is due to technical issues, but “it appears that the government is attempting to muzzle citizens’ freedom of expression and to prevent the free circulation of information,” according to a March 2019 report by Global Voices.
On multiple occasions prior to March 2018 the government ordered Internet and social media outages, frequently in tandem with political protests and demonstrations by social movement organizations, particularly those challenging the nationalistic president, Idriss Déby.
The Chadian government claims these outages maintain safety and order, but they are a threat to journalists, activists, and civilians alike. Internet Without Borders, an organization at the front of the fight to restore Internet access in Chad, have launched global campaigns to support this effort.
Since 2016, social media and Internet blocks have happened in varying degrees across Africa, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, and Gabon, among others, with governments saying Internet will be available so long as “public order is respected.”
Government-ordered Internet blackouts in Africa have yielded sporadic news coverage. In January 2018, CNN reported on a “crippling” Internet shutdown in part of Cameroon; this article described the outage in Cameroon as part of a “disturbing trend” of African governments using Internet shutdowns for political reasons. In March 2019, TIME covered the shutdown in Chad, and the BBC published a story on how African governments block Internet access.
Abdoulaye Bah, “One Year Without Internet in Chad: Citizens Have Been Offline since March 2018,” Global Voices, March 8, 2019, https://globalvoices.org/2019/03/08/one-year-without-internet-in-chad-citizens-have-been-offline-since-march-2018/.
“Chad is Blocking Social Media and Messaging Apps… Again!,” Internet Sans Frontières, April 5, 2018, https://internetwithoutborders.org/chad-is-blocking-social-media-and-messaging-apps-again/.
Verengai Mabika, “Internet Shutdowns Cannot be a Solution to Political Challenges in Chad,” Internet Society, April 10, 2018, https://www.internetsociety.org/blog/2018/04/internet-shutdowns-cannot-solution-political-challenges-chad/.
Student Researcher: Joseph Blickfeldt (College of Western Idaho)
Faculty Evaluator: Michelle Mahoney (College of Western Idaho)