Uganda: Data on internet blocks and nationwide internet outage amid 2021 general election

Amid its 2021 general election, Uganda was disconnected from the internet entirely. The country experienced a widespread internet blackout that lasted 4 days, starting on the eve of the election (13 January 2021) and ending in the morning of 18 January 2021. In the days leading up to the election, access to major social media platforms and circumvention tools was blocked – even when the OTT (Over the Top) tax (commonly referred to as the “Social Media Tax”) was paid.

In this report, we share OONI network measurement data on the blocking of social media and circumvention platforms leading up to Uganda’s elections, as well as IODA data (and other public data sources) on the internet blackout that occurred amid and following the election. We also share findings from experiments run in Uganda (before and after the internet blackout) through the use of the miniooni research client.

The report was written by Maria Xynou (OONI), Simone Basso (OONI), Ramakrishna Padmanabhan (CAIDA, UC San Diego), Arturo Filastò (OONI), DefendDefenders, and Defenders Protection Initiative. It was published on 22 January 2021.


Human Rights Defender of the month: Alex Njenga John

Alex Njenga has always believed in egalitarianism both as a principle and as a tool for justice. As a result, he has always been suspicious of, and at times hostile to social prejudices that treat some people as “more equal than others,” – to use a line from George Orwell’s famed political fable, Animal Farm.

Some of the experiences that have shaped his social and political outlook have been personal. As an adolescent in Kenya’s Uasin Gishu County, Alex was stigmatised and denied healthcare after he identified himself as belonging to Kenya’s sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) community.