NetBlocks metrics confirm a nationwide disruption to internet service on multiple providers across Sierra Leone from the morning of Wednesday 10 August 2022. Internet was cut for two hours at noon, and then again overnight, amid reports of protests and clashes between the police and protesters in capital city Freetown and other areas. Authorities subsequently denounced an attempt to ‘overthrow’ the government and imposed a nationwide curfew.
⚠️ Confirmed: Real-time network data show that #SierraLeone is in the midst of a near-total internet shutdown amid anti-government protests in #Freetown; metrics indicate national connectivity at 5% of ordinary levels; incident ongoing 📵
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) August 10, 2022
Real-time network data show the near-total internet blackout coming into effect on mobile and fixed-line internet providers by Wednesday noon in a pattern consistent with an intentional disruption to service, corroborating user reports of outages in multiple cities.
⚠️ Update: Service is being restored after an overnight internet blackout in Sierra Leone, the second registered amid anti-government protests. The incidents are likely to limit the flow of information as authorities impose a nationwide curfew.
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) August 11, 2022
ℹ️ Update: Internet access is largely restored in #SierraLeone after a near-total internet blackout amid widespread protests, as authorities impose curfew and denounce attempt to 'overthrow' government; incident duration ~2 hours #SaloneTwitter— NetBlocks (@netblocks) August 10, 2022
📰 Report: https://t.co/i33uW9Cq85 pic.twitter.com/T4lfDqYUef
National connectivity is observed at just 5% of ordinary levels as of Wednesday afternoon. The disruption impacts most internet users in Sierra Leone and is likely to significantly limit coverage of events on the ground. This class of disruption cannot be readily circumvented through the use of VPN services.
Videos emerged showing violent confrontations between security forces and demonstrators, whose protests are sparked by rising prices, hardship, and a faltering economy.
The National Cybersecurity Coordination Center of Sierra Leone subsequently issued a notice of imprisonment terms between ten and twenty years in relation to information shared online “to destablilize the State”:
⚠️Update: A day after a nationwide internet shutdown and curfew amid protests, #SierraLeone has issued a notice against "acts of cyberterrorism", namely the spreading of "information on social media platforms to destabilize the State"
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) August 11, 2022
NetBlocks recommends against the use of network disruptions and social media restrictions to counter protests, given their disproportionate impact to fundamental rights including freedom of expression and freedom assembly.
- Sierra Leone imposes nationwide curfew amid deadly anti-government protests – Reuters
- Curfew declared in Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown amid violent anti-government protests – CNN
- Authorities declare nationwide curfew amid deadly protests sparked by the rising cost of living –
- Protesters killed, internet shut down and curfew imposed amidst deadly protests in Sierra Leone – MFWA
NetBlocks diffscans, which map the IP address space of a country in real time, show internet connectivity levels and corresponding outages. Purposeful internet outages may have a distinct network pattern used by NetBlocks to determine and attribute the root cause of an outage, a process known as attribution which follows detection and classification stages.
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