back to article Mozambique blocked rioters' texts

A letter apparently from the Mozambique communications authority asked mobile networks to block text messages during food riots in the southern African country earlier this month. Hundreds of people were arrested over the protests and 13 killed, after the government put up the price of bread by a third. Petrol and electricity …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    This is actually a good thing.

    Ok, so I don't live in Mozambique and I'm not commenting on the right of people to riot or protest.

    The issue is that the police and government are charged with the task of protecting civilians. If the riots and protests become violent and threaten the lives of others, then its for the greater good of the population.

    Note that they are not restricting all phone texting, but only to those that are using 'burn' phones or 'pre-paid' wireless phones since these tend to be the phones which are sending the texts.

    There isn't a fine line between black and white, but a large gray area. While I believe in freedom, I don't believe in freedom to the point where it harms others.

  2. Anonymous Coward


    AC 14:04 Are you serious? Limiting free speech for the majority of mobile customers (most mobile customers except multi national business and the government in africa are pre-pay) is ok because it helps stop legitimate protest?

    I have no idea about your reference to 'burn' phones but I'm sure the majority of the population of Mozambique can't afford to despose of such an expensive (to them) item in such a way.

    FFS I have no more words.

  3. Throatwobbler Mangrove
    Thumb Down


    "The riots were encouraged by round-robin text messages." El Reg

    "The protests were fuelled by text messages urging people to join in." BBC

    Says who? The government that just ordered the censoring? Of course they're going to blame public disturbance on shady criminal elements instead of, for instance, pissed off poor people wondering about where their next meal is going to come from.

    It's not a fact that is sourced to the Mozambican media outlet nor the BBC journalist, yet it's critical to understanding the issue. The reasonableness of the censorship depends on the nature and degree of risk the blockaded messages present.

    This report casts doubt on the claim that text messages were sent encouraging riot but were in fact planning for protests - just like anywhere and just like Iranians were encouraged to do with Twitter:

    "Note that they are not restricting all phone texting, but only to those that are using 'burn' phones or 'pre-paid' wireless phones since these tend to be the phones which are sending the texts."

    If you think that the kind of people who are upset because the price of their staple foods has gone up are going around buying disposable phones to spread misinformation, you're completely deluded. You know that GDP per cap per diem is $3 in Mozambique, right? That 70% of people live on less than $2 a day?

    Of course it's going to be prepaid phones that are most used to discuss food prices - the people who can afford mobile phone contracts are going to be less impacted by the increases!

  4. JaitcH

    Many countries restrict cell usage at various times - use WiFi VOIP instead

    Whenever G20, 7 or whatever is in town you will find cell service is reduced/cancelled or delays in text transmissions are arranged. Obama, when mobile in his rolling dog and pony parade, should you have a spectrum analyser, you will see that an electronic wide-band 'cloud' follows him around from one of the black SUV's. They can 'notch' the signal permitting certain frequencies such as Plod, fire, etc, to operate.

    Apparently the Secret Service, and the Canadian RCMP, expect UID's - excitable fellows they are.- to brighten their days. Russia and China often cut service..

    Obviously, if you are participating in these fracas, go buy some Icom (and Chinese made) field tunable 2-way radios and set them up near to Plod frequencies and you'll have good comms.

    1. Mullerrad
      Big Brother

      Radio gsga

      Emergency services in uk don't use two way radio. They use Tetra which is more like mobile phones than radio.

  5. Darryl

    "excessive rain in Canada"

    Sure, blame it on us. It has been awfully wet this year, though

    Seriously though, my guess is the reason they only blocked texting on pay-as-you-go phones would be that if they blocked their contract customers, they could face major class action suits for breach of contract.

  6. raving angry loony


    Actually, according to various sources the price shot up because of market speculation by a few people who probably got quite wealthy off it. Not because of shortages. Of course, those people didn't give a damn that the higher prices would lead to folks going hungry elsewhere.

    Meanwhile, the farmers themselves (at least, the ones I know) aren't seeing a rise in the price they get for their product. Seems to be someone in the middle getting the benefit of this price increase.


  7. John Tserkezis


    "The prices shot up thanks to lack of rain in Russia and excessive rain in Canada."

    Those had everything to do with the rise in petrol and power I bet...

    When govco rorts its people - who can ill afford in the first place - what did they *think* was going to happen?

    Perhaps they thought if their people can afford phones, they can afford the higher price of bread.

    Or, if not, get rid of the phones.

    Perhaps govco thought they were doing their people a favour?

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