Restricting the ‘Net
There has been a marked rise in recorded Internet shutdowns globally, but the increase in officially sanctioned disruptions in Africa so far this year are noteworthy. Take the 2 shutdowns that affected Ethiopia recently – first authorities restricted social media platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram and disabled SMS text messaging in order to deter cheating during national secondary school exams and then came a second disruption as the result of an attempted coup (which is more understandable). The orders for these interruptions mostly come from dictatorships and partial democracies. Potentially they damage ecommerce trade, particularly since Regulators and telecommunication companies often fail to provide advance warnings or justification for these suspensions. In the case of unforeseen uprisings, or natural disasters obviously there are good reasons why no advanced warnings can be given, but in the cases where governments disrupt the internet in order to preserve public safety, limit hate speech, or reduce cheating during exams we believe that due warning should be given in order to allow e-platforms and e-shops to warn their customers.
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