As citizens of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) pointlessly refresh their web browsers this week, they may be getting a preview of just what Chinese-crafted cyberspace rules look like.
The DRC on Monday became the latest country to cut its people off from the internet, as voters await the results of this weekend’s highly-contested presidential election.
Internet and social media shutdowns have become more common across Africa and Asia in recent years, particularly as authoritarian governments look to China as the model for controlling what people can say and do online.
Speaking to Reuters Tuesday, a senior adviser to DRC President Joseph Kabila, disclosed that internet and text messaging services were shut down to preserve public order after “fictitious results” were seen circulating on social media.
Barnabe Kikaya bin Karubi told the news agency that the country is expected to remain offline until full results were published on January 6. Doing otherwise could “lead us straight toward chaos,” he added.
In a joint statement, US, European Union, Canadian and Swiss diplomats called on the Congolese government to refrain “from blocking means of communication, in particular access to the internet and the media.”