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What to do in an event of an Internet Shutdown

Tensions keep growing in Nigeria amidst the #EndSARS protests which have been going on for about twelve days now. With ongoing protests around the nation, there have been rumours of an internet shutdown by the government. 

Although the idea of the government shutting down the internet might sound ridiculous, it is not far fetched following the drastic steps the Nigerian government has taken lately, like the Lekki shooting experience, carried out by military personnel on peaceful #EndSARS protesters; and also considering the fact that all Internet Service providers are regulated by NCC

Internet shutdown is not a new concept, it has occurred in some places around Africa and Asia. In 2019 alone, 213 internet shutdowns were documented in various countries around the world and it is not a pleasant experience, it is like being cut off from the whole world.

There are two ways the government can go about an internet shut down:

  1. Partial Shutdown
  2. Total Shutdown


Partial Shutdown

In this case, the government could instruct internet service providers (ISP) to restrict traffic to various sites. This is a similar technique employed by corporate offices to restrict their connections from various sites. The most commonly affected platforms of a partial shutdown are social media sites. This service is only able to work because devices connect to the internet through their IP address which is can tell you approximate location. 

You can find your way around this by making use of:

  1. A VPN: A VPN is capable of hiding and encrypting your IP address and changing your device’s location.VPNs are generally some of the safest and easiest work-around internet restrictions. Nord VPN and Turbo VPN (Free) are examples of popular VPNs that you can use.
  2. Tor: Tor is open-source software built to anonymize traffic. It is popular amongst privacy advocates and journalists. It allows users to access blocked websites and resources without being tracked.

Total Shutdown

This happens when the government directs the ISPs in the country to shut down the internet, thereby rendering internet-dependent services inaccessible. This is normally used as a last resort in dictator-led governments to control the flow of information. VPNs will not work in an event of a total shutdown.

You can find your way around a total shutdown by using:

  1. A Dial-Up connection: Dial-up connections allow you to connect to an ISP via a public switched telephone network (PSTN). Using a dial-up connection is not easy though. You will require a tech-savvy person who will have to search for dial-up numbers of close ISPs outside Nigeria’s local calling area and share them with others. You can find help on how to use a dial-up connection here.
  2. Bridgefy: Bridgefy is an offline messaging app available to both IOS and Android devices. It lets you communicate with friends and family when you don’t have access to the Internet, by simply turning on your Bluetooth antenna. Use the Broadcast tab of the app so you can chat with all other Bridgefy users within 100 meters (330 feet). You can download Bridgefy on Google Play Store or the IOS App Store.

Message to all #Nigerians and #EndSARS #Protesters: Download Bridgefy. It allows you to send messages to people around you. This is an alternative if the government decides to shut down the internet. It is available for both IOS and Android devices.

— #EndSARS tech blogger (@_therealgaza) October 21, 2020

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