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New Report on the Impact of Internet Shutdowns to Prevent Cheating on Exams Launched

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Disruptions Observer, Internet Society
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September 14, 2022

A new report, Internet Shutdowns to Prevent Cheating During Exams: The Impact on Society and Economy in the MENA Region, has been launched today by SMEX, a Lebanese NGO that works to advance self-regulating information societies in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. 

The report comes after another summer of Internet shutdowns throughout the region, which saw Internet access cut off during school exams for entire populations in Sudan and Syria

Investigating four countries – Algeria, Jordan, Sudan, and Syria – that have historically implemented measures to throttle or cut access to the Internet in conjunction with school exams, the report provides a unique overview of the practice and assesses the impact that these shutdowns have on society, the economy, and the Internet overall. The report offers an overview of the tools and methods that authorities commonly use to control the Internet. Impact analyses for each of the four countries highlighted in the report demonstrate the effect that these shutdowns have on the country and its residents. Using the Internet Society’s Internet Way of Networking Framework, the report also assesses the impact that this practice has on the enablers of an open, globally-connected, secure, and trustworthy Internet. 

Key Findings

The report acknowledges:

  • Internet shutdowns are never a proportionate response. 
  • Shutting down the Internet to prevent cheating during exams is not the most efficient way to combat such an action. Whatever form a shutdown takes, it harms economic development as well as the integrity of, and trust in, the Internet.
  • Internet shutdowns do not prevent cheating in exams and there are other more proportionate methods that do not negatively impact entire countries, their economies, and residents. 
  • The Internet is a precursor to a successful digital economy that allows for innovation and three of the four countries analyzed in depth (Algeria, Jordan, Sudan. and Syria) are attempting to develop their digital economies while still implementing Internet shutdowns, including during exams. 
  • Internet shutdowns harm the aspirations for an open, globally-connected, secure, and trustworthy Internet and the enablers needed to achieve this.  

The authors go beyond shedding light on this troubling practice and offer a set of recommendations for governments and decision-makers, civil society groups, and the private sector to try to prevent future shutdowns during school exams. 

What Can You Do 

Internet shutdowns harm societies, economies, and the global Internet infrastructure. We urge governments and decision-makers everywhere to support policies that keep the Internet on and strong, in order to build robust and resilient economies and give people the opportunity to build their own prosperous futures.

This research was funded by The Internet Society.

Image by hosny salah from Pixabay