MTN ordered to cut access to the internet by eSwatini government

This week there have been concerning reports of violence in eSwatini (formerly known as Swaziland), as political unrest and tensions in the region boiled over regarding the reign of King Mswati III. As pro-democracy protests continued, the government reportedly began giving orders to service providers to cut access to the internet. 

Now MTN, which is the primary network operator in eSwatini, has confirmed the reports as it has been instructed to do so by the country’s Communications Commission. The network operator is now looking for an intervention by the courts to overturn the decision. 

“After carefully assessing the directive, and in line with its licence conditions and the Group’s digital human rights due diligence framework, MTN Eswatini implemented the directive,” the company explained in a statement shared with Gadget

“MTN Eswatini continues to engage with relevant stakeholders to limit the duration of the service disruption and is reviewing the details of the court application in consultation with its advisers. MTN Group is committed to respecting human rights and endeavours to protect the rights of all people who use our services in the jurisdictions in which we operate in accordance with globally defined standards. Our approach to digital human rights is underpinned by a sound policy and due diligence framework and is managed through multi-disciplinary teams across our markets,” the statement added. 

Restricting access to the internet is nothing new for countries where civil unrest has broken out, as we saw a similar episode play out recently in Myanmar.

Whether MTN will be successful in its attempt to overturn the order, remains to be seen, but it is apparently a situation that South African officials are closely monitoring.  

“The South African government calls on the security forces to exercise total restraint and protect the lives and property of the people, in keeping with the country’s constitutional provisions and laws. In addition, South Africa urges all political actors and civil society to engage in meaningful dialogue in order to resolve the current political challenges facing the country,” Clayson Monyela, Department of International Relations and Cooperation spokesperson said earlier this week. 

At the time of writing, several organisations within eSwatini have filed urgent applications to the high court in order to have access reinstated, and as such, this is a developing situation we will continue to monitor.

[Source – Gadget]


About Author


Related News