Iraq pulls plug on Internet for three days to prevent exam cheating

Censorship gone to far : Iraq Shuts Down Internet for Entire Country to Prevent Exam Cheating

This is surely a case of taking censorship too far. Iraq’s top Internet watchdog, the communications ministry asked the ISPs in that country to shut the Internet down for 3 consecutive days in order to stop students from cheating during examinations.

This year, Iraq’s Internet went dark for May 14, 15, and 16, between 05:00 AM and 08:00 AM GMT. Adding timezone differences, that’s 08:00 to 11:00 AM, the time, and dates for Iraq’s official exams for secondary and high schools.

However, this is not the first time, the communications ministry done the same thing in 2015. The diktat was implemented during the national exam days but no Iraqi official ever admitted it. This year however, an Iraqi Internet Service Provider leaked on Facebook the content of an email it received from the communications ministry.

A copy of the email received by Iraqi ISPs

SMEX, a media freedom advocacy and development organization for Arab countries, also noted that major Internet content delivery networks like Akamai and Dyn saw a complete lack of Internet connection from Iraqi servers right on the aforementioned dates and time.

Though purists may back Iraq governments to curb exam cheating by blocking the Internet for whole of Iraq, it also shows the utter ease by which Internet was shut down by the ISPs. This does not bode well for freedom of information because the government may shut down the Internet at the smallest whiff of protest from its citizens like an Arab Spring protest.

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