Amid countrywide protest, Sudan shuts down social media on mobile networks

These past three days, hundreds of Sudanese have taken to the streets of Khartoum and elsewhere in the country protesting soaring food and gas prices and many years of human rights violations under the Sudanese government. In response to spontaneous protests, security forces have reportedly shot and killed eight people and injured many more.

Rather than addressing the critical political and economic issues Sudan is facing, the government has decided to shut down social media and introduced a state of emergency. Accessing information and exercising freedom of expression – especially in times of unrest –  is essential: it enables many to reach emergency and medical services, access life-saving information, and reach family and friends at home and abroad. Blocking access to social media has put many lives at risk and will continue to do so unless the government allows the free flow of information.

“The Sudanese authorities seem to have decided to curb access to social media to contain the crisis, and restrict the information available about what’s going on in the country,” said Access Now’s Advocacy Director Melody Patry. “Interfering with internet access and digital communications is not unprecedented in Sudan. This attempt of censorship and information control must stop.”

This is not the first time Sudanese have been on the streets protesting rising fuel prices, and unfortunately, this is not the first time the Sudanese government has shut down social media in response to protests.

Moreover, as many of the protesters across the country are protesting the rising prices of food and other essential items, cutting access to social media only adds fuel to the fire: it will contribute to the grave economic crisis and the high inflation facing Sudan. This countrywide social media outage is costing Sudan $7,521,798 per day.

Pressure is building on telecom companies operating in the country, including MTN Sudan and Zain Sudan, to more transparently notify the public of restrictions and push back against government requests that could violate human rights.

Your story could help stop the shutdowns

If you’re in Sudan, your voice is especially important right now. Your story and any information you share about this shutdown incident can help us fight censorship and internet shutdowns around the world. Use this form to share how the shutdown has affected you.