False flags and internet censorship: an edifying tale
The internet has broken down in Mauritius – and you should be afraid.
Homes, businesses and even mobile / wireless users were unable to access much of the online world on Monday thanks to what government IT officials are calling a “external cyberattack from multiple locations. “
Without providing any evidence, the Information and Communications Technology Authority (ICTA), which oversees the island’s telecommunications infrastructure, pointed to “outside forces” while stepping up its rhetoric on the need to monitor all Internet traffic to and from the island in order to counter “hateful, defamatory and sectarian comments on social networks”.
Using a crisis to justify repression is a tactic straight out of the totalitarian playbook. We have seen similar attempts at large-scale government surveillance and censorship in the backwaters, like Kazakhstan, as well as through private entities (Facebook, Twitter) in so-called “free” countries, such as the United States.
Mauritius is however a special case. A former liberal democracy with a handful of socialized institutions (e.g. healthcare), the island nation has been sliding slowly but steadily into a state of quasi-authoritarianism for some time, with outgoing political leaders imprisoned and members of opposition parties harassed and intimidated.
Now the government is using this latest “attack” to bolster its case for the creation of a sort of “Mauritius Great Firewall” that will help stifle the “bad” voices that increasingly threaten the stability of the regime. more unpopular.
All this begs the question: was it really outside work? The ICTA’s failure to provide evidence of the alleged cyberattack leaves many on the island wondering if this was not a false flag operation to support its drastic new censorship agenda.
It should be noted that the Mauritius Internet is quite robust, with multiple redundant connections to the world through at least three different submarine fiber optic links. Hackers would need intimate knowledge of the local telecommunications infrastructure, as well as privileged access to key routers and servers, to stop all traffic on each network. Yet that’s exactly what we’re supposed to believe that happened for almost 5 hours on July 19 – and that the only way to counter such attacks in the future is for the government to directly control every bit of it. data passing through these connections.
“You never let a serious crisis go to waste.” Chilling words from the chief architect (Rahm Emanuel) of the Clinton political machine in the United States. It seems the Mauritian government has learned a few tricks from prototype liberal democracy, and it will soon take advantage of the “great cyberattack of 7/19/21” to impose a censorship and speech suppression network on its people.
And if it can happen here, where the principles of public authority and political transparency once reigned supreme, it can happen anywhere. To fear. Be very afraid.