Internet access restricted in Senegal

On 1 August, the Senegalese communications minister announced internet restrictions to address the proliferation of ‘hateful messages’ on social media, without specifying a timeframe for lifting the restrictions.

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The communications minister of Senegal made an announcement stating that there will be restrictions on internet services starting from Monday – 1 August. The reason behind this decision is the proliferation of ‘hateful messages’ circulating on social media platforms. This action comes in the wake of the opposition leader Ousmane Sonko being officially charged with inciting rebellion. These restrictions will primarily impact mobile internet services, though it remains uncertain whether other forms of internet access will be affected. The communications minister gave no specific timeframe for lifting the restrictions.

During June 2023, Senegal also witnessed a series of internet restrictions in the aftermath of widespread protests triggered by the sentencing of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko in an unrelated case to the abovementioned. On 1 June, major social media platforms faced restrictions, as confirmed by NetBlocks, and from 4 June, mobile data was suspended in specific regions, leading to complete offline periods during daily curfew-style disruptions that lasted for three days. The restrictions were eventually lifted on 7 June.

Surfshark, an organisation that monitors internet shutdowns and network disruptions globally, has gathered data showing three instances of similar restrictions occurring in Senegal over the years.

Network connectionSocial media and/or messaging apps
The network connection has been disrupted at one time in the past, which lasted three days.Social media and/or messaging apps have been disrupted at least two times in the past, with an average duration of 3.2 days.

According to the global data collected by Surfshark, internet restrictions affected 4.24 billion individuals in the first half of 2023, with 82 cases of internet restrictions affecting 29 countries in the first half of this year. Out of these 82 incidents, 40 were ongoing before the start of 2023, while 42 started this year. So far, Iran imposed the largest number of internet restrictions during 2023, with 14 cases. India, a world leader in internet shutdowns in 2022, followed with 9 cases.