Multiple internet providers in Kazakhstan have blocked access to major social networks and online platforms Facebook, Instagram and YouTube as well as news and campaign websites on 9 May 2019, according to NetBlocks internet observatory network measurements.
The restrictions appear to have come into place after dissident groups called for demonstrations to take place on May 9, as Kazakhstan and former Soviet states commemorate their World War II victory.
Confirmed: Network data show Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Telegram and several independent news and petition sites have been blocked across #Kazakhstan as authorities seek to suppress #VictoryDay demonstrations; incident ongoing #KeepItOn ⬇️https://t.co/URk7qvVz9f pic.twitter.com/O3BmLspDzi
— NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) May 9, 2019
Network data show that restrictions have been implemented at the ISP level variously this morning, or late Wednesday evening. The blocks now affect most major internet providers although the complete set of sites restricted varies by ISP.
Update: Access to social media platforms has been restored in Kazakhstan as of 2:00 p.m. UTC (8:00 p.m. ALMT):
Update: Access to social media platforms has been restored in #Kazakhstan as of 2:00 p.m. UTC (8:00 p.m. ALMT) following nationwide #VictoryDay internet platform restrictions #KeepItOn 📈https://t.co/URk7qwda0N pic.twitter.com/gcVQeMJuQE— NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) May 9, 2019
Access to various independent news media sites was restored along with the social platforms:
Access to various independent news media sites has also been restored in #Kazakhstan as of 2:00 p.m. UTC (8:00 p.m. ALMT) following selective nationwide #VictoryDay internet restrictions #KeepItOn 🗞https://t.co/URk7qwda0N pic.twitter.com/SpSpC3oxx9— NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) May 9, 2019
NetBlocks internet observatory measurements indicate Internet providers in Kazakhstan had cut social media platforms Facebook, Instagram and YouTube by around 7:00 a.m. UTC (1:00 p.m ALMT) as Victory Day ceremonies were under way, while some restrictions were put in place hours earlier:
Major Internet providers in #Kazakhstan cut social media platforms Facebook, Instagram and YouTube at around 7:00 a.m. UTC (1:00 p.m ALMT) as #VictoryDay ceremonies got under way, while other restrictions came into place hours earlier #KeepItOn ⏱https://t.co/URk7qvVz9f pic.twitter.com/GCTaF6Oq8R— NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) May 9, 2019
VK, Twitter and the WhatsApp messaging service remain generally available. Although messaging app Telegram is restricted, it includes censorship countermeasures that allow mobile and desktop versions to remain connected.
Internet scale measurements indicate some networks may have been completely disabled, preventing all internet access to subscribers to those services, pending further investigation.
Kazakhstan has experienced intermittent social media blocking in recent months as authorities have sought to restrict access to live broadcasts by exiled political activist Mukhtar Ablyazov calling for public demonstrations, although blanket bans as today’s remain uncommon.
Kazakhstan is set to hold presidential elections on 9 June 2019 following the resignation of long-term president Nursultan Nazarbayev in March.
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 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.
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.