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Is Venezuela blocking the Internet amid violence?

As lethal protests wrack the country, the government becomes more heavy-handed with censorship.

The flag of Venezuela.

In Venezuela, the government controls most of the television stations, so many residents turn to the Internet and social media for news. But, what happens when those get censored?

As the South American country has become engulfed in lethal protests and government crackdowns, it is said that the authorities have now started blocking the Internet -- especially in those states that have seen the most bloodshed.

Widespread student-led protests against President Nicolas Maduro's administration erupted last week. While the government is working to maintain its control of the country, the protesters are calling for Maduro's resignation due to high crime, political repression, and inflation, according to Reuters.

On Thursday there were local reports of Internet blackouts in the western state of Tachira and a complete shutdown of the Internet provider in the state capital San Cristobal, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

These blackouts come on the heels of the government removing television stations from cable networks and working to get opposition leaders and protesters censored on Twitter, according to Bloomberg. Last week, Twitter confirmed the Venezuelan government was able to block certain users' online images.

Theoretically, this type of censorship is permissible under Venezuelan law, according to Human Rights Watch. The country's broadcasting law says it is forbidden for media providers to "incite or promote hatred" or "foment anxiety in the population or threaten public order."

As the strife has escalated over the past few days, the government has continued to ramp up its reported media and Internet censorship. The government owns the country's largest ISP -- CANTV -- and therefore can wield significant power when it comes to the Web. It's unclear if the reported Internet blackouts will spread to other states.

[Via Mashable].