For the second consecutive month, thousands of people who oppose the country's decades-long rule of Alexander Lukashenko continue to march through the streets of Minsk calling for an end to his 26-year long rule that just got extended after he was announced the winner of the August 2020 presidential elections.
US tech helps Belarusian dictator >> The toxic commercial surveillance market undermines foreign policy of the very country’s it is made in: U.S. Company Faces Backlash After Belarus Uses Its Tech to Block Internet ↘️ https://t.co/Pq86iGSyjg— Marietje Schaake (@MarietjeSchaake) September 12, 2020
Supporters of the opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya who claims that she has won the elections by 60%-70% of votes have since taken to the streets of the capital city, peacefully denouncing Lukashenko's authoritarian rule since 1994.
However, the protests that have been met with great force by the police, are also facing strong censorship especially after local authorities have been able to block the internet, which has been greatly helping the opposition activists connect, mobilize and keep the world updated with police violations, which has greatly helped curb arrests.
According to Bloomberg, a US internet firm has provided the Belarusian government with advanced technologies that enable them to cut off the internet connectivity in the country.
Business ethics? Potential breach of US sanctions against #Belarus 🇧🇾? US company #Sandvine Inc is under fire for supplying Belarus with internet blocking technology used to obstruct opposition organisation, including of peaceful protest: https://t.co/Q88bcNuUW8— Helen Clark (@HelenClarkNZ) September 13, 2020
Sandvine Inc. has been especially highlighted in the Bloomberg investigation, which revealed that advanced tools that monitor and control internet access have been heavily used by the local government to shut the internet and limit people's access to many websites online. The report notes that such practices have been used a month before the elections and continue to aid the government's efforts to stop protests.
The report also adds that the internet blocking technology was "obtained by Belarus’s National Traffic Exchange Center, which manages the country’s internet networks, as part of a $2.5 million contract with the Russian technology supplier Jet Infosystems. The latter supplied the Sandvine equipment, according to government documents and the people."
The company declined to comment. But told employees on Thursday it didn't consider blocking access to websites a human rights violation & didn't want to play "world police" by telling countries what they could & could not block. pic.twitter.com/D1fE6oJT6K— Ryan Gallagher (@rj_gallagher) September 12, 2020
As a human rights lawyer,I can assure @Sandvine & Mr. Haväng that internet access is ABSOLUTELY “a part of human rights” & encourage them to check out intl human rights law, incl UDHR, ICCPR,General Comment 34, as well as Belarus Constitution before making such ignorant statement— Natalia Krapiva 👩🏻💻🏠 (@natynettle) September 11, 2020
Internet blockage in Belarus during the 4th of August's elections hindered people's ability to access social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, which was then justified by officials by "a massive cyber-attack" before internet experts and analysis linked it to the government's systematic attempts to block the internet and influence elections results.
On camera, Lukashenko blames US for unrest to justify crackdown and pander to Kremlin. Off camera, he hires US tech company to block internet. https://t.co/f5K69yhSIb— Lucian Kim (@Lucian_Kim) September 13, 2020
Responding to Bloomberg's investigation, the California-based Sandvine had concluded that the internet, and access to specific material on websites, wasn't "a part of human rights" which means that the company "didn't violate U.S. sanctions."
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