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Government Censorship The Internet

Congo Shuts Down Internet Services 'Indefinitely' (nytimes.com) 88

On Saturday Engadget wrote: Authoritarian leaders are fond of severing communications in a bid to hold on to power, and that tradition sadly isn't going away. The Democratic Republic of Congo's government has ordered telecoms to cut internet and SMS access ahead of planned mass protests against President Joseph Kabila, whose administration has continuously delayed elections to replace him. Telecom minister Emery Okundji told Reuters that it was a response to "violence that is being prepared," but people aren't buying that argument. Officials had already banned demonstrations, and the country has history of cutting communications and blocking social network access in a bid to quash dissent.
And today in the wake of deadly protests, Congo announced that the internet shutdown will continue "indefinitely." The New York Times reports: At least eight people were killed and a dozen altar boys arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday after security forces cracked down on planned church protests against President Joseph Kabila's refusal to leave office before coming elections... Congolese security forces set up checkpoints across Kinshasa, and the government issued an order to shut down text messaging and internet services indefinitely across the country for what it called "reasons of state security."
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Congo Shuts Down Internet Services 'Indefinitely'

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 01, 2018 @02:17AM (#55842113)

    A country that includes the words "Democratic Republic" in its name is neither democratic nor a republic.

  • contingency question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by beckett ( 27524 ) on Monday January 01, 2018 @02:29AM (#55842141) Homepage Journal
    I'm interested in any good ideas, countermeasures, rube goldberg devices that could be employed in or outside of a country like DRC that could restore, maintain, or circumvent a communications banhammer.

    mesh wifi? blimps? ad hoc 3g network? femtocells? type beam microwaves? airdrops of Pringles? angel investor for TamTam? Bonus points for ideas that are bespoke to Africa itself.
    • Wifi meshnet with clever routing is the obvious answer, but it should be implemented in a way that allows plausible deniability of ownership. Imagine a small, low power, low-observability, multiband pi that anyone can just plug in to an outlet and it starts functioning as a mesh net router offering free wifi for 50 meters in any direction. A dedicated repressive regime could track them down one at a time but it would be more trouble then it's worth, especially if people keep putting up new ones.
      • by Gryle ( 933382 ) on Monday January 01, 2018 @04:02AM (#55842359)
        Unfortunately, the DRC has an electricity distribution issue. While the DRC has a lot of power-generating capability, civil infrastructure development is very lopsided and a lot of areas suffer rolling blackouts or brownouts. Also, never underestimate how far dictators will go to stay in power.
    • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Monday January 01, 2018 @03:05AM (#55842213) Homepage Journal

      https://slashdot.org/story/03/... [slashdot.org]

      And remember the rules of country names: If it contains "Democratic" then it isn't, and if it says "People's" there's an implied "A Few Dozen" before it.

    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Monday January 01, 2018 @03:14AM (#55842243)

      I'm interested in any good ideas, countermeasures, rube goldberg devices that could be employed in or outside of a country like DRC that could restore, maintain, or circumvent a communications banhammer.

      What do you hope to accomplish? Restored communications would empower the urban elite in Kinshasha, and further marginalize the rural people of the eastern Congo, who in some areas are already in open rebellion. The last thing the DRC needs is yet another full scale war.

      For all his faults, Kabila has mostly avoided pandering to tribalism, unlike his "democratic" opponents. In the 1st World, we tend to view "Democracy" as an unqualified "Good Thing", but in tribal societies, it usually just leads to the dominant tribe getting even more power to crush the minorities.

    • by iktos ( 166530 ) *

      If the cell phone service as such isn't shut down a modem app would make uucp possible.

    • Your first problem is ensuring trust of the information and that it isn't coopted by the regime (or an equally unsavory party). Once you do that, the need for external communication, or your communication perimeter, is established.

      Then we have the question of what type of message would be trusted. Do we need 4K video, or just text? Do we need to be able to prove sender identity and chain of custody?

      Any peer-to-peer communications system you build is unlikely to be effective at more than 6 hops, and you wo

      • >I just puked in my mouth... but Blockchain?

        That would, in theory, do what? The government could out-hash the citizens, and if the outside world provides enough hash power to 'outgun' them, how is that different from any other system? And you still need a traceable connection to spread your message... radio sources can be triangulated.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's called a gun, until the people stand up it's a worthless topic.

  • As this movie opens around the world, the protests rage.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The media that screams the loudest about supposed tyranny and injustice will be the least interested in this story. It might get 30 seconds on the back end of the news, near the feel-good story of the dog who can walk on his hind legs.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    That's most likely true, but in a page taken from the administration over in the USA, what they're up to is being projected as the "other side's".

    Congo is shutting down internet services in preparation of the violence *the government* is preparing to unleash against those who would dare question their ruler. If the citizens of Congo have any wisdom or have ever read a history book, then they will strew their government's entrails across the capital before the military and "law-enforcement" forces have been

  • by MavEtJu ( 241979 ) <[slashdot] [at] [mavetju.org]> on Monday January 01, 2018 @06:35AM (#55842617) Homepage

    Time to dust of these Fidonet Technical Standards printouts!

  • It's neither democratic, nor a republic.

    • by Jahta ( 1141213 )

      It's neither democratic, nor a republic.

      As a general rule of thumb, if some person or group makes that sort of claim in their name then it's probably not true; see "family values" candidates, the Patriot Act, etc. etc.

  • They have internet???
  • ... just like recently enacted elsewhere in the world, just a little more effective.
  • IIRC during Arab springs, blocking Internet caused more people to go outside, because they could not just watch anymore.

    China and Russia taught us it is much more efficient for the government to keep internet online, and to inject propaganda into social medias.

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!