Internet outages in Algeria during new wave of re-election protests

Several parts of Algeria have been cut off from the internet on Friday 1 March 2019, limiting communications and media coverage of the second wave of protests against president Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term.

The NetBlocks internet observatory has collected evidence of outages, with some ongoing since 25th February (Bordj Menaiel – east of Algiers), others beginning from 1:00 PM UTC Friday (including parts of the capital and Tizi Ouzou) at the outbreak of the new protests. The disruptions are ongoing at the time of writing and are likely to significantly impact participants’ ability to share content from the demonstrations.

The disruptions are consistent with technical means used to limit the flow of information in order to quell protests and media coverage of the opposition. Some networks remain available, though in cases with slowed or throttled bandwidth, permitting an amount of information to leave protest areas.

On Friday 22 February 2019, NetBlocks identified several regional internet disruptions across Algeria, when the public went out to the streets during the first wave of protests, with further disruptions throughout the weekend.

News sources report that state media have been compelled not to cover the protests. The internet disruptions are understood to be part of a wider attempt to curtail public dissent since the protests started in traditional, broadcast and online media.

Evidence of earlier social network restrictions

The two disruption incidents follow an earlier round of more limited platform restrictions appearing to target social media up until Thursday 21 February 2019 which internet users reported being able to circumvent using VPN (Virtual Private Network) software. Those reports are corroborated by evidence collected using NetBlocks web probe scans at 10:00 PM UTC on the 21st indicating the poor reachability of a broad set of online platforms with state-owned network operator Algérie Télécom (ALGTEL, AS36947):


The new findings corroborate many reports of ongoing disruptions:

NetBlocks diffscans, which map the entire IP address space of a country, provide evidence of the scope and timing of the ongoing disruptions at internet-scale. NetBlocks web probe scans, conducted with the assistance of local volunteers and The Guardian‘s regional desk, provide an additional view of the disruptions and network performance from local vantage points.

Developing incident.

The NetBlocks Group is a civil society group working at the intersection of digital rights, cyber-security and internet governance. Independent and non-partisan, NetBlocks strives for an open and inclusive digital future for all.

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