Newsdeck

Algeria and Iraq shut down internet to prevent exam cheating

By Al Jazeera 21 June 2018

The Algerian government has ordered telecom companies to shut down the internet in the country for several hours every day for the next few days to prevent high school students from cheating.

 

Facebook will be blocked completely during the five days the exams take place.

The decision was made in an attempt to prevent what happened in 2016, when the exam questions leaked online before the exams took place.

According to Algerie Telecom, access will be cut off for mobile and landline connections for about two hours every morning until 25 June.

The shutdown was confirmed by the Internet Intelligence project from internet company Oracle, which monitors web access across the globe.

In 2016, the questions for the Algerian high school exams leaked before students took the exam, prompting the government to request internet service providers to limit access to social media in 2017.

However, not happy with those results, the government decided this year to shut down the internet entirely to prevent another leak.

Iraq will implement similar measures for the next two weeks while exams take place in the country.

Shutdowns amount to censorship

This is following earlier shutdowns from May 27 until 13 June, during which exams were being held as well.

SMEX, a Beirut-based organisation promoting a open internet in the Arab world, said there is no data suggesting these types of precautions work.

Governments take these measures and suggest that ‘widespread cheating’ or some variation of that phrase has occurred in the previous year, but they never provide data and they never mention how effective these internet shutdowns were,” SMEX’s Grant Baker told Al Jazeera.

More often, governments are resorting to shutting down the internet to prevent cheating during exams.

In recent years, India, Iraq, Syria and Ethiopia have all disconnected their populations from the internet in an attempt to stop exam fraud.

Free speech advocates and rights organisation have condemned these measures, saying the shutdowns amount to censorship of the population, crippling the economy.

SMEX provided Al Jazeera with some personal accounts of people who have had to deal with the current shutdowns.

As a result of the government’s Internet shutdown during exams, I lost a job opportunity with an international company because I missed the Skype interview,” an Algerian marketer told SMEX.

Another account was given by an Iraq account, who said he sits around the office doing nothing during the shutdowns.

Students will find other ways to cheat while our work gets damaged and we lose time,” the accountant told SMEX.

Access Now, a human rights group focused on digital rights, called on governments around the globe to stop internet shut downs. Cost to the economy

“Disruptions around school exams are a unique issue. They impact many different groups, such as students, teachers, parents, proctors, internet service providers, telecommunications companies, internet companies, testing services, and education agencies, and it’s clear that most of them would prefer an alternative to an internet blackout,” a 2017 statement by the group said.

Several countries, including  India

,

Ethiopia

,  and  Mauritania

have all shut down access to the internet to prevent cheating on exams.

Turning off the internet partially or completely has become a way for governments to silence criticism as well.

In  Iran

,  the internet was shut down during the 2017 protests.

Syria , embroiled in a civil war, has shut down the internet repeatedly.

Cameroon shut down internet access in its anglophone regions to prevent the population from organising during protests.

Shutdowns not only affect free speech, but also have a huge impact on economies.

According to Bahrain Watch, an organisation researching the Gulf state, daily shutdowns in 2016 cost the country at least $265,000.

Gallery

Want to watch Richard Poplak’s audition for SA’s Got Talent?

Who doesn’t? Alas, it was removed by the host site for prolific swearing*... Now that we’ve got your attention, we thought we’d take the opportunity to talk to you about the small matter of book burning and freedom of speech.

Since its release, Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s book Gangster State, has sparked numerous fascist-like behavior from certain members of the public (and the State). There have been planned book burnings, disrupted launches and Ace Magashule has openly called him a liar. And just to say thanks, a R10m defamation suit has been lodged against the author.

Pieter-Louis Myburgh is our latest Scorpio Investigative journalist recruit and we’re not going to let him and his crucial book be silenced. When the Cape Town launch was postponed, Maverick Insider stepped in and relocated it to a secure location so that Pieter-Louis’ revelations could be heard by the public. If we’ve learnt one thing over the past ten years it is this: when anyone tries to infringe on our constitutional rights, we have to fight back. Every day, our journalists are uncovering more details and evidence of State Capture and its various reincarnations. The rot is deep and the threats, like this recent one to freedom of speech, are real. You can support the cause by becoming an Insider and help free the speech that can make a difference.

*No video of Richard Poplak auditioning for SA’s Got Talent actually exists. Unless it does and we don’t know about it please send it through.


Comments

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or if you are already an Insider.

Days of Zondo

The Transnet cowboys and the extraordinary push for that Gupta-linked China South Rail deal

By Jessica Bezuidenhout