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Venezuela: Internet blocked for “three minutes” on Election Day

Categories: Advocacy, Human Rights, Regulation, Venezuela

Late on Election Day in Venezuela this Sunday, April 14, Internet access through the country's primary service provider CANTV [1] was interrupted, according to declarations by the vice president and science and technology minister, Jorge Arreaza. The Anonymous National Telephone Company of Venezuela (CANTV) has been under state ownership since May 2007.

After a hacking wave involving the Twitter accounts of the presidential candidate and current interim president Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro [2]) [es] and his party, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (@PartidoPSUV [3]) [es], the Internet across the country was down for about twenty minutes according to users’ declarations and for “no more than three minutes” according to the authorities.

Users reported they couldn't access the service through CANTV and later said that access to the majority of the pages was reestablished except for news and social networks’ sites. Some users reported having difficulties getting online through other ISPs, including Miguel Laversa (@MigueLaversa [4]) [es]:

Cuenta de Nicolas Maduro hackeada [2]

Nicolas Maduro's Twitter account, April 2013

@MigueLaversa [5]: La pagina votacion2013.com [6] esta bloqueada para los que navegamos por Inter o Cantv. Se puede acceder sin problemas usando una proxy.

@MigueLaversa: Site votación2013.com is blocked for those who browse with Inter or Cantv. You can access it with no problem using a proxy.

Vice president Jorge Arreaza (@jaarreaza [7]) [es] declared in his Twitter account:

@jaarreaza [8]: Compatriotas no hay problemas con internet. Calma!! Fue una maniobra breve para impedir más hackeos conspiradores del exterior.

@jaarreaza: Fellow countrymen, there is no problem with the internet. Calm down!! It was just a brief maneuver to prevent more conspiracy hackings from abroad.

Later on, Arreaza announced to the press that he blocked Internet access for a few minutes  [9][es] to avoid a hacking attempt on the National Electoral Counsel site. The web page was made inaccessible for users outside the country to prevent more DDoS [10] attacks after it had been under fire since Sunday, according to Arreaza.

Pages like NoticiasVenezuela.org [11] [es], DollarToday.com [12] and Votacion2013.com [13] [es] were still down through CANTV, as well as the National Electoral Counsel [14] [es] at 3:21AM GMT on April 15, the time of this post's original publication [15] (in Spanish).