Wikipedia blocked in Venezuela as internet controls tighten

The NetBlocks internet observatory has collected technical evidence of the blocking all editions of Wikipedia in Venezuela as of 12 January 2019. The restrictions are implemented by the largest telecommunications provider CANTV.

The study comprising 60,000 metrics has also identified a major network disruption affecting telecommunications infrastructure, coinciding with the other restrictions, that will have impacted Venezuelans’ ability to communicate and access information during the previous 24 hours.

In context
The site appeared to be partially accessible as of morning 14th January 2019 though the block is ongoing; the contested Wikipedia articles remained locked down by editors.

The restrictions are understood to follow a bitter Wikipedia edit war where editors put forward conflicting views, during which newly-appointed National Assembly president Juan Guaidó was listed as “president number 51 of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.”

Data also show that a number of local sites have been recently restricted, indicating that recent political instability may be the underlying cause for a tightening regime of internet controls.

Venezuela joins Turkey as the only other country presently known to block the entirety of the Wikipedia online encyclopaedia.

The findings are corroborated by several CANTV subscribers who report they can only access Wikipedia using VPN connections which can circumvent censorship.

User Stories: Venezuelans report being unable to access Wikipedia without a VPN

https://twitter.com/sccarlls/status/1084294731503493120

 

It could not be ascertained at the time of writing whether an official blocking order has been issued or whether the restriction is intended to be permanent. Other Wikimedia projects such as Wikidata and Wikimedia Commons have not been affected.

 


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.


NetBlocks is an internet monitor working at the intersection of digital rights, cyber-security and internet governance. Independent and non-partisan, NetBlocks strives to deliver a fair and inclusive digital future for all.

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