Empty classroom in Iraq with desks, no people

Iraq to Shutdown Internet During 2024 Exam Period

Picture of Hanna Kreitem
Disruptions Observer, Internet Society
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May 20, 2024

The Iraqi government announced over the weekend that the Internet will be shut down nationally during the upcoming exam period, per the Ministry of Education’s request. The shutdown will occur every exam day from 6:00 to 8:00, an hour before the exams start.

Screenshot of the Internet shutdown announcement made by the Iraqi government, posted on the Ministry of Cmmunication website 19 May 2024.
Figure 1 — Internet shutdown announcement made by the Iraqi government 19 May 2024. Source: Ministry of Communication

The news comes almost exactly twelve months after the Iraq Ministry of Communication refused a request from the Ministry of Education to shut down the Internet during the baccalaureate examinations as part of efforts to prevent cheating.

That decision was challenged by the Ministry of Education, which obtained approval from the Council of Ministers to shut down the Internet during the baccalaureate exam period and other exams. This resulted in a record 42 shutdown events in the country in 2023.

In an open letter to the Prime Minister of Iraq, the #KeepItOn coalition, which the Internet Society is a member, recently urged authorities to abstain from implementing Internet shutdowns during exams. The letter notes the lack of evidence demonstrating their impact on exam cheating, the economic cost of shutdowns on the country, and their violation of human rights.

According to the Pulse NetLoss calculator, every 24 hours that the Internet is shut down in Iraq results in around USD 1.4 million losses in Gross Domestic Product and around USD 124,000 in Foreign Direct Investment losses. This also hinders international business trust in Iraqi telecommunication infrastructure.

Screenshot of the Internet Society Pulse NetLoss Calculator showing how a one day Internet shutdown s-costs Iraq USD 1.4M in GDP losses,  USD 124K in FDI losses and 50 jobs.
Figure 1 — The Internet Society Pulse NetLoss Calculator uses an economic framework to estimate the impact of Internet shutdowns on a range of economic, social, and other outcomes and uses econometric tools to provide a rigorous and precise estimate of the economic impact of a given shutdown Source: Pulse NetLoss.

Iraq is one of many countries that repeatedly and unjustifiably use Internet shutdowns during school exams. In 2023, exam-related shutdowns accounted for nearly half of all shutdowns Pulse tracked globally for the year.

The Internet Society is working closely with Access NowSMEX, and the broader #KeepItOn community to draw attention to this activity and call upon authorities in several countries, including Iraq, to reconsider during this year’s exam periods.

Learn more and join the effort to demand authorities guarantee open access to the Internet at all times. #NoExamShutdown!