Tanzanians circumvent draconian laws to resist Internet shutdown on election day

THE government of Tanzania shut down Internet on the eve of the general election, in an obvious attempt to facilitate the rigging of the election, but the people quickly found a solution.

They opted for a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which allowed them to easily browse in an even safer way from the government’s attention and censorship, without using their usual local mobile connection.

Local mobile providers – especially Vodacom, Airtel and Tigo – were compromised for political reasons. This initiative has kept millions of users reachable and active on social media, the only way to access and communicate reliable information in Tanzania today.

One user anonymously spoke to SAUTI KUBWA: “They shut down the Internet because they intend to rig the election without us being able to communicate and fight back. But they are way behind the technology. I suppose they are also using a VPN to communicate among themselves now.”

The Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) through which the government manages local internet providers was angered by the people’s creative initiative to the point of issuing a threatening statement against those who would be found “breaking the law” by using foreign Internet access. Threats notwithstanding, life goes on.

The fact it, however, so many users, especially in rural areas, did not access the VPN in time and were left without any means of communication. To many people, it is like the election is taking place “in the dark.”