Chad’s two largest cellcos and internet access providers, Tigo and Airtel, have told a public hearing that recent restrictions on internet access were the result of directions from the government, APA News reports. The case was filed against the duo with the district court of N’Djamena by two Chadian lawyers, claiming that consumer rights are being violated by throttling of internet access.
Airtel’s legal representative explained that the operator has signed an agreement with the telecom ministry and the sector regulator under which it would cooperate fully with state authorities regarding matters that concerned national security, including restricting the network. Tigo’s counsel repeated the claim, adding that the current limitations to access have been directed by the government. For their part, the plaintiffs argued that Chad’s consumer protection law supersedes this agreement. In addition, the duo noted that invoking the agreement cannot be justified at the moment, as Chad is not in state of emergency. The judge accepted requests from Tigo and Airtel for sector watchdog the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Post (L’Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes, ARCEP) to be present, postponing the next hearing until 18 September.
Internet access in Chad has reportedly been throttled since late March 2018 according to French NGO Internet Without Borders (Internet Sans Frontieres, ISF), which claimed in a joint statement to the UN Human Rights Council the following month that Chad had ‘mastered the practice of shutting down telecommunications for political reasons’. ISF’s submission stated that bandwidth throttling was ‘making it extremely difficult for Chadian citizens to connect to social media and messaging apps without the use of a VPN.’