Egypt blocks opposition campaign site in run-up to constitutional referendum

Internet providers in Egypt have blocked Voiceonline, an opposition campaign petition website, hours after it reportedly gathered 60,000 signatures on Tuesday 9 April 2019 amid concerns over the risk of electoral fraud.

Network data consisting of over five thousand measurements, including control sites, indicate that the platform has been restricted by all but one of Egypt’s mobile and fixed line internet service providers.

Users report having to use VPN circumvention tools to work around the filters to access the campaign website, and network measurement data show that the restrictions are consistent with filters used to block online content in Egypt.

The campaign was launched in opposition to the upcoming constitutional referendum, which seeks to extend presidential term limits and strengthen presidential control over the judiciary.

The website, which goes by the tagline Void, remains available globally outside of Egypt, with the exception of Sudan where it is also restricted for unknown reasons, possibly due to Sunday’s ongoing social media blackout or network infrastructure shared between the two neighboring countries.

Egypt implements a strict regiment of internet controls on grounds of national security, recently introducing a new legal framework for the regulation of social media and website content.

Update: Sunday 14 April 2019: Three mirror sites of the campaign have been blocked since the original site was restricted. The latest campaign site was blocked first in Sudan, before similar restrictions were introduced by providers in Egypt later in the day:


Methodology

Internet performance and service reachability are determined via NetBlocks web probe privacy-preserving analytics. Each measurement consists of latency round trip time, outage type and autonomous system number aggregated in real-time to assess service availability and latency in a given country. Network providers and locations are enumerated as vantage point pairs. The root cause of a service outage may be additionally corroborated by means of traffic analysis and manual testing as detailed in the report.


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