Togo’s netizens are currently in the midst of an internet shutdown. Internet and mobile SMS service in the small African country of Togo has been shut down as of September 7th. Connection issues started on September 5th, when some users started having trouble connecting to social media sites without the help of a VPN. The internet blocking intensified in the days following. The internet block is a result of the ongoing protests during elections in the country. A government spokesperson, Gilbert Bawara, confirmed on FM radio that the internet had been cut for security reasons. He claimed:
“Even in most developed countries, authorities take control of telecommunications in some cases.”
Needless to say, even if that were the case – it shouldn’t be.
Condemn the internet shutdown in Togo
These internet blocks have been condemned by the United Nations and other African countries. Internet blocks during elections are so common in that part of the world, Kenya had to repeatedly reassured internet users in their country that internet service would remain on during last month’s elections. In other parts of the world, such as the Jammu and Kashmir region of India, the politically motivated internet shutdowns run on a much larger schedule and don’t wax and wane with elections. Over the last few years, the Jammu and Kashmir region has seen months (several hundreds of hours) without internet. Even when internet was available, mobile telephony might be cut off – or social media sites inaccessible without the use of a VPN. While internet users in the Togolese Republic wait for restored internet, internet users around the world should think long and hard about whether or not their government would ever shut down the internet or social media access – and what to do in such a situation.