Today, Access joined a coalition of groups in calling for the government of Iraq to restore full access to the internet. As the letter details:
We are writing with regards to the blocking of the internet in Iraq in June and July 2015. On or about the day of June 27, 2015 we learned that the government had ordered Internet Service Providers to shut down the use of the internet, allegedly to stop cheating on school examinations. Our sources, which track internet traffic and other relevant information, confirmed additional shutdowns of the internet on June 12, 2015 and in early July…
….We accordingly believe the decision by the government of Iraq to shut down the internet, whether for exams or for security reasons, negatively impacts human rights in the region. This is especially true in light of the ongoing conflict with ISIS and other groups in the country, who could use internet blockages to commit human rights violations under a media blackout, or to attack citizens who cannot gather crucial information about how to protect themselves or contact emergency services.
The international coalition recommends that the government withdraw its order to telecommunications companies; pledge not to order further blocking in the future; and explore alternative methods of securely administering school examinations. The coalition includes Article19, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Egypt-based Heliopolis Institute. You can read the full letter here.
We have recorded over half a dozen government-ordered shutdowns in 2015 so far, from Burundi, to the Pacific island of Nauru, to Togo, and now Iraq. Stay tuned for news about Access’ project to stop internet shutdowns around the world.