Network data shows that Venezuela’s state-run internet provider ABA CANTV (AS8048) has restricted access to Twitter, Periscope, YouTube, Facebook and several other services after Juan Guaidó used Twitter to announce the final phase of Operation Freedom from the perimeter of a military base in La Carlota. The project, which has reportedly gained the support of defectors from the military, has the stated goal of reinstating democratic establishments in Venezuela.
Access to each of the services remains intermittently available as the restrictions do not appear to be 100% effective, matching the patterns of network outage observed in previous nationwide censorship incidents.
Urgent: Multiple internet services restricted in #Venezuela amid military-supported uprising following #OperacionLibertad calls; incident ongoing – follow live article for updates #KeepItOn #30Abr ⬇️https://t.co/9qTM20Ps62 pic.twitter.com/Nc1WD1xOO7
— NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) April 30, 2019
With WhatsApp servers already unstable, Telegram messenger’s web interface and website have become fully unreachable for users of Venezuela’s state-run internet provider as of 21:00 UTC (17:00 VET). The two applications have been used extensively by Venezuelans to keep track of the situation in the country. Telegram includes blocking countermeasures which can allow the mobile version of the app to continue working:
Internet access was finally restored towards the end of Tuesday, 20 minutes prior to a live-streamed speech by Nicolás Maduro:
Confirmed: Access to social media, streaming and messaging services restored across #Venezuela 20 minutes prior to live-streamed #Maduro speech at 1:05 a.m. UTC (9:05 p.m VET) following day of internet disruption ⏱ #30Abrhttps://t.co/9qTM20Ps62 pic.twitter.com/8nYnSobdYv
— NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) May 1, 2019
The outages mark a sudden escalation of internet censorship imposed by the state appearing to target critical speech. Data are consistent with previous targeted disruptions during public appearances by Juan Guaidó, and during sessions of Venezuela’s National Assembly.
Past incidents of network filtering in Venezuela have lasted from twelve minutes to over twenty hours, when YouTube was restricted hours before the country’s first nationwide power outage. Network data indicates that the platform disruptions are consistent with methods used to block online content in Venezuela.
However, the extent of blocking through Tuesday is unprecedented in NetBlocks’ archive of network disruption incidents in Venezuela.
NetBlocks 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.