Iraq has done it again. The country’s Ministry of Communications has shut down Internet access in the entire country for the second year in a row just to make it harder for Iraqi students to cheat on their exams.

This year, the country’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.

The same thing happened in 2015, but no Iraqi official ever admitted it. After it happened this year as well, coincidentally right on national exam days, there’s no reason for government officials to explain the downtimes, since anyone can now reach the obvious conclusion.

An Iraqi Internet Service Provider leaked on Facebook the content of an email it received from state officials. (text below, image at the end of article).

  Dear Valued Customers, As per the Ministry of Communications and ITPC instructions, please be informed that all the Circuits and the Internet service will be shutdown tomorrow 15-5-2016 by the ITPC in the period from 5:00AM to 8:00AM. During this time all the Internet connectivity will be turned off in all regions of Iraq. As all the International Gateways in all Iraq borders will be down in the mentioned period, so this activity will affects on all of the Internet Service Providers, Mobile Operators, and VSAT Operators in Iraq. Sorry to cause any inconvenience to you, and thanks for your understanding.  

An exercise for future government-mandated Internet shutdowns

SMEX, a media 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.

If the government has managed to shut down the Internet so easy just because of some high school exams, imagine how easy it would be to shut it down in the case of an Arab Spring-like protest.

A copy of the email received by Iraqi ISPs

A copy of the email received by Iraqi ISPs

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