The Bangladeshi government isn’t only counting on the crackdowns of Facebook and Twitter to protect its December 30 parliamentary election. The country’s Telecommunication Regulatory Commission hasÂ shut downÂ 3G and 4G mobile data to “prevent rumors and propaganda” from skewing the vote.
The measure took effect immediately and was poised to last through the end of election day.
Whether or not that’s the main reason isn’t clear — the government doesn’t exactly have a clean track record. Bangladesh temporarily shut off mobile internet accessÂ in AugustÂ in an ostensible bid to curb violence at protests over road safety, but there’s evidence suggesting that it wanted to stop the dissemination of media showing pro-government activists and police attacking protesters.
In 2015, it alsoÂ clamped down on individual messaging appsÂ in an attempt to thwart protests.
This latest move might help prevent violence and misinformation, but it could also hinder the opposition’s ability to rally support. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s administration has been accused of intimidating and imprisoning critics to help maintain power, and this could be another extension of that strategy.