Uganda’s Social Media Tax through the lens of network measurements

Key Findings

  • HTTP blocking and RST injection: Ugandan ISPs primarily implement internet censorship by means of HTTP blocking, resetting connections to taxed and banned sites.
  • TCP/IP blocking of apps: MTN appears to block Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Snapchat by means of TCP/IP blocking. The TCP/IP blocking of Snapchat may have caused collateral damage, possibly affecting thousands of sites hosted on the same CDN. However, even if this is the case, it doesn’t affect most MTN users since MTN’s proxy circumvents IP-level blocking.
  • Variance in blocking: Social media censorship varies across ASNs. Africell, for example, attempts to block Telegram, while MTN doesn’t. Some Ugandan ISPs don’t block access to social media sites at all (such as Uganda Telecom and Smile Communications).
  • Circumvention tools blocked to prevent untaxed access to social media: The blocking of circumvention tool sites also varies across ASNs. MTN blocks access to VPN servers using the OpenVPN protocol and to torproject.org, but not to the Tor network.

Read the full report here.

Publication date: 12th November 2018

Publishers: OONI & DefendDefenders (with artwork & contributions from POLLICY)

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