Cut off

Radio Free Europe reports:

YouTube and Facebook have become inaccessible via many Internet service providers in Tajikistan.

Internet users across the country on August 25 said they had been able to open the websites only via proxies. 

Asomuddin Atoev, the chairman of Tajikistan's Association of Internet Service Providers, told RFE/RL that access to the sites was being blocked by some Internet service providers based on an order by the State Communications Service.

A source at Tajikistan's State Communication Service confirmed to RFE/RL that the Internet providers were instructed to limit the two websites' accessibility. No reasons were provided.

Tajik authorities have long been criticized for randomly blocking Google services, YouTube, Facebook, and other popular social networks.

Such government action has almost always coincided with online activities of opposition groups or events tied to social and political events in the Central Asian nation.

It happened out of the blue, like so many times before.  Our provider is finicky at the best of times (we had another 5GB mysteriously disappear overnight; we forgot to turn off the WIFI as we usually do).  It can be super slow, it eats data at random intervals even when we are not online, it sputters and spurts like an old engine.  Sometimes it's very fast.  Sometimes it crawls to a halt.  So first, I didn't think it was a government restriction.  Then I got a news alert from Radio Free Europe.  Aha! Much is explained. 

Here's the worrisome bit:  Every time this happened before, the government denied any involvement. Everybody knew it, of course, but the official statements always said that the Ministry of (Mis?)Communications has nothing to do with it.  The fact that this is an official sanction steps the game up a few levels.  I am waiting for the usual protest of the US Embassy (they usually do) and whether this is going to have any repercussions (my guess is, not).  But I can't help but wonder that if this is a real sanction this time, not a covert one, whether they are going to take it back.

Also, if someone knows what they were so worried about, let me know.  (Best to comment here on the blog, not on Facebook - who knows when I get on Facebook with the VPN and it eats data like crazy.)