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Venezuela’s Largest ISP Blocks Access to the Tor Network

Acronym 'ISP' of the yellow square pixels on a black matrix background. Internet service provider concept.
Using the state-owned ISP, Venezuela’s government has blocked the country’s public from accessing the Tor network for news and information.

Many democracies around the world have started behaving like autocracies. Venezuela is one country which has been reeling under severe restrictions imposed by the ruling government headed by Nicolas Maduro.

A state of emergency declared in 2016 is yet to be lifted, and the public at large and those against the government were deprived of information which the government felt was against its interests.

Now, the last avenue that the people had to access genuine news, the Tor network, has also been snatched away from them.

This has been disclosed by the team behind Tor in a Twitter post. They also attached a graph that shows how the number of people accessing Tor through their VPN connections has had a steep drop from around the 30,000 mark to just around 10,000.

This is a definite giveaway that there have been restrictions put on the access to Tor in Venezuela.

Government-Owned ISP Behind the Move

It is also being reported that the action to bar people from logging into Tor was taken by Venezuela’s top internet service provider, CANTV. It is public knowledge that this ISP is an arm of the government in Venezuela itself.

To that extent, this action is seen by citizens and activists as the latest case of news censorship by the Maduro administration. Government-initiated censorship and surveillance have been steadily expanding over the last year in Venezuela.

While Tor often gets a negative reputation elsewhere for hosting the darknet sites, at least in Venezuela, it was proving to be useful to journalists to post their news stories, which the public would have no way of accessing otherwise. That avenue too stands blocked now.

Does It Amount to Human Rights Violation?

Activists say any such obstruction to dissemination of information the public is entitled to receive is to be termed as a violation of their human rights under the U.N.

But these are done by many governments, even in countries which boast of democracy and rule of the very people they deceive.

In this particular case, the very election of Maduro as president is being questioned by his opponents as being rigged.

Already, the Venezuelan government is accused of muzzling the country’s media, and until this recent action of blocking of Tor by the government-owned ISP, a lot of people had access to Twitter to exchange some of their own experiences with those in power. Now that has also been curtailed.

Still Appealing to the Government to Open Up

Word ISP (Internet Service Provider) on keyboard background
Many democracies around the world have started behaving like autocracies.

Despite the lack of optimism in the present setup’s willingness to run the government transparently, activists are presently making a fervent appeal to the president and other top officials to refrain from imposing such restrictions and to open up the channels of information to the public.

The voting public deserves to know what is happening around them and form their own opinions rather than the ruling dispensation shaping the public opinion by feeding them with only one-sided information.

Activists hope enough pressure will be brought upon the president and his group of advisers to change course and open up information channels to the public again.

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