Internet Shutdowns

Local Impact

Syria has joined Iraq and Algeria in conducting nationwide Internet shutdowns to curb cheating prior to national curriculum exams. The first of the shutdowns happened between 5:00 and 8:30 local time on 25 June 2023 with more expected at the same time over the coming days.

As reported by SMEX, this is not the first time the Syrian government has resorted to Internet shutdowns during national school exams. In May 2018 and August 2020, the authorities implemented the same measure during the secondary school certificate exams period. Similarly, in August 2022, the telecommunications company published a comparable schedule detailing the dates and areas affected by the service interruption. It stated that this procedure is in accordance with “the Ministry of Education’s request to ensure the examination process runs smoothly and to counter cyber intrusions and attacks on the secondary certificate exams.”

As we have repeatedly written about here on Pulse, Internet shutdowns cause great harm to a country’s economy and society and are in our opinion NOT the appropriate mechanism to cope with potential exam cheating.

Data and Analysis

Cloudflare Radar measurements show the shutdown occurred first on 25 June and then on 26 June.

Screenshot of Internet traffic trends in Syria as seen by Cloudflare showing drop in total traffic on 25 June.

IODA measurements show a steep drop in BGP connectivity from 2:00 to 5:30 UTC on 25 June 2023, indicating the shutdown is affecting Internet connectivity.

Screenshot of IODA measurement graph showing a drop in BGP and Google Search between 2:00 and 5:30 on 25 June.

Google’s Transparency Report shows a slight drop in traffic to YouTube coming from Syria compared to previous days at the same time.

A time series graph showing changes in traffic to YouTube over 24 hour period from 22 to 26 June.

Screenshot of Cloudflare Radar Tweet notifying of shutdown

Screenshot of tweet from Doug Madory, noting IODA measurments

Economic Impact
No data
Shutdown Type
Affected Services
Cellular and Fixed Broadband