Network data from the NetBlocks internet observatory confirm that messaging app WhatsApp is blocked in Chad from Wednesday 22 July 2020. Real-time metrics show that the service remains unavailable as of Tuesday 18 August 2020.
— NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) August 18, 2020
Internet restrictions specifically target WhatsApp backend and frontend servers for subscribers of leading cellular networks Airtel and Tigo Tchad.
Confirmed: #WhatsApp has been blocked in #Chad on leading cellular operators Airtel and Tigo; real-time network data show restrictions targeting frontend/backend servers in place with no explanation offered by authorities #Tchad
— NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) July 22, 2020
No explanation was initially provided by authorities, sparking speculation as to the basis of the restrictions. NetBlocks spoke with users who suspected a connection to a deadly altercation between an army colonel and a mechanic at a market in N’Djamena.
The restrictions came just as the International Monetary Fund announced additional credit to the Chadian government of $68.49 million in order to balance losses incurred by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Days after the first publication of this report, government sources speaking on background appeared to support the narrative that the restrictions were related to the market incident. On 3 August 2020, the Minister of Communication confirmed to AFP that a “temporary measure” was taken to prevent the alleged “dissemination of messages of incitement to hatred and division,” but stopped short of providing specific details.
Update: Internet restrictions continue in #Chad with #WhatsApp messenger restricted for the ninth consecutive day impacting day-to-day life, trade and access to knowledge; report updated with context and background; incident ongoing 📉 #Tchad
— NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) July 30, 2020
500 Internet performance metrics collected from an initial 10 observation points and a wider set of analytics data confirm on 22 July 2020 that WhatsApp frontend, backend and CDN servers were restricted in Chad. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter remained available. Findings are consistent with previous internet restrictions documented in Chad and there is no indication of a technical fault.
Affected users are able to regain access via VPN services which circumvent internet censorship by tunnelling network traffic to other countries.
Background: Chad’s 2018/2019 extended social media blackout
Network measurement data confirm that previously blocked social media and messaging platforms in #Chad are now available via multiple internet providers that had complied with the censorship order 📈 pic.twitter.com/V6rKhC8BeT
— NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) July 17, 2019
- Messaging service WhatsApp blocked in Chad – Toumai Web Medias
- Nouvelle censure de Whatsapp au Tchad – Internet Sans Frontières
- WhatsApp blocked in Chad – Digital Watch Observatory
- Chad: Revelations on the Extent of Social Media Censorship – Internet Sans Frontières
- Chadians back on social media after 16 months net blockade – Africanews
- After a record 16-month ban, this president has unblocked social media access – Quartz
- Chad has now spent a full year without access to social media – Quartz
- The government or the people. Telecoms firms trapped in internet shutdowns – DW
- Chad media suspensions – CIVICUS Monitor
🔴@WhatsApp a été bloqué au Tchad depuis hier sur les principaux opérateurs cellulaires @airteltchad et @tigotchad. Les données collectées en temps réel par @netblocks montrent des restrictions ciblant les serveurs. Aucun communiqué officiel. Nous suivons de prêt la situation. pic.twitter.com/f9bPG3gm1k
— Paradigm Initiative (PIN) (@ParadigmHQ) July 23, 2020
— Internet Without Borders (@Internet_SF) July 24, 2020
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.