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Venezuela: Twitter Photos Blocked as Protests Continue

Categories: Access, Activism, Free Expression, Law, Protest, Venezuela

Yesterday, after two days of intense protests throughout the country [1], Venezuelan netizens reported a number of problems accessing certain websites. Several websites were reported as blocked, and Twitter users were unable to access images [2] and video on the social networking site, which has been vital for communication among protesters. Gabriel Bastidas, a Venezuelan journalist, said on Twitter:

10:08 pm, [apparently] they would have blocked Twitter multimedia protocols in Venezuela. Users report that they cannot see photos.

Journalist Jesús Torrivilla said:

I have the webclient for Twitter blocked. I use ABA. But I could access using Tor.

Journalist Laura Solórzano reported:

The problem with the pictures on Twitter is due to a blockage of Twitter protocols. It's done by the government.

The problem with the pictures in Twitter is suffered only by people with CANTV connections. Inter and satelital are normal.

Other users did traceroutes to the Twitter image server and reported that the connection was being interrupted by CANTV, the government-owned ISP that has a near-monopoly over other telecommunications providers in the country. Loris Santamaría, a consultant in network infrastructure services, tweeted:

Well, I have the traceroute, it's Cantv who's blocking us

Other users were having issues accessing different websites throughout the day. Naky Soto, a venezuelan blogger and activist, reported problems accessing the website of the national newspaper El Nacional and linked a screencapture:

For many people, links from El Nacional are giving this error

On Thursday, William Castillo, President of the Venezuelan Telecommunications Commission, CONATEL, declared [16] that media coverage of the protests could result in a violation of the Law of Social Responsibility in Radio, Television and Electronic Media. The Venezuelan government has been blocking websites for different reasons for several years, and a wave of blockages flared last November, when President Maduro announced [17] measures against websites reporting on the unofficial price of foreign currency. On past Saturday, Castillo had announced that the government had blocked up to 384 websites for this reason:

CONATEL has gotten Venezuelan ISPs to block 384 website urls that are distributing misinformation about the illegal dollar.

On Friday, scattered reports of problems accessing other websites, such as Pastebin.com, Facebook and Twitter itself, have continued. Friday afternoon, CANTV issued a statement [19] categorically denying its connection with blocking images on Twitter.