Mauritania has prompted outcry from human rights watchdogs after indicating that the government could further tighten its grip on internet usage.
According to a report from Ecofin, the administration of president Mohamed Ould Ghazouani is seeking to bolster a cybercrime law passed by its predecessor in 2016. Under this law, several political bloggers and activists have already been imprisoned.
CommsUpdate quoted Ghazouni as saying that online platforms, including social media, were being used “to undermine public stability, spread false rumours or spread hatred and incite social groups against others.”
Ghazouni’s warning is an increasingly common refrain in Africa, where longstanding political leaders are recognising that the internet offers citizens frustrated by under-representation with a platform for mobilizing opposition to their entrenched administrations.
Nigeria recently blocked access to Twitter after the site removed a tweet by the country’s president that threatened regional secessionists, while Uganda shut down access to social media two days before a national election in January. Bobby Wine, the key challenger to incumbent President Yoweri Museveni, had gained a significant following among younger tech-savvy citizens keen for change.