Iraq witnessed a widespread disruption of national connectivity on the first day of student exams, as the government implemented its strategy of temporarily disabling fixed-line and mobile broadband services to combat cheating during state tests. The internet blackout affected the country, coinciding with the scheduled final exams on June 1st.
The Iraqi government has resorted to shutting down internet access as a systematic method to prevent students from using mobile phones to cheat in exams. Similar disruptions have been observed in previous years, highlighting the government’s reliance on this approach.
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Iraq is not the only country to face internet outages in such circumstances. NetBlocks, a global network monitoring company, recently reported extensive disruptions to internet connectivity in Syria. These disruptions, lasting approximately four hours each day and beginning on May 24th, appear to be connected to the national practical and lab exams taking place in the country.
While some governments worldwide justify internet shutdowns during educational examinations as a means to combat malpractice, this practice has received significant criticism. The negative impact of these disruptions is evident, as they not only hinder digital economies but also undermine democratic principles.
These prolonged and severe acts of internet shutdowns infringe upon digital rights, restrict access to information, and have far-reaching consequences that affect various aspects of social, economic, and civic life. The criticism of this approach emphasizes the need for alternative strategies to maintain academic integrity without compromising essential digital freedoms and societal progress.