Network data from the NetBlocks Internet Observatory confirm widespread disruption to social media and online communication platforms via multiple internet providers in Tanzania as of Tuesday 27 October 2020. The incident comes on the eve of Tanzania’s presidential and national assembly elections and the service outages are ongoing at the time of writing.
Real-time metrics show that Twitter, WhatsApp, backend servers for Instagram and some Google services including GMail and Translate are generally or partially unavailable via Tanzania’s leading network operators Vodacom, Airtel, Tigo, Halotel and ZanTel. Meanwhile, data indicate a more generalized disruption of services on state-owned operator TTCL, the Tanzania Telecommunications Corporation. Findings are drawn from an initial set of NetBlocks Web Probe observations from 800 observation points. Twitter Inc. has also subsequently confirmed throttling of its services in Tanzania.
Authorities have not issued a statement on the disruptions as of Tuesday afternoon. A week earlier, the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority issued operators with a directive to suspend bulk SMS and telephony services during the election period. However, the directive does not specifically cover internet communications and relevant regulatory frameworks remain unclear.
The incident comes amid heightened concerns over election transparency and follows claims from the opposition over state interference with the accreditation process for electoral observers.
Breaking incident: article will be updated as information is processed
This report follows the Election Pathfinder Rapid Response methodology which defines a set of core principles, workflows and benchmarks for network measurement and evaluation during elections and referenda.
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.