Internet blackouts have now become commonplace across Iraq, as the Iraqi government once again restricts internet access across the country due to the ongoing protests. In the previous year, Iraq experienced a major internet outage at the time of mass protests in southern Iraq.
With the current internet outage, it was revealed that Iraq started experiencing an internet outage after citizens were using social media to call for protests. According to a cybersecurity monitor known as NetBlocks, it was revealed that these outages are “intentional restrictions” enforced by major internet service providers.
It was further found that the internet outage first began as social media restriction through which several social media sites were inaccessible for the Iraqi citizens; slowly, the restrictions spread wider and resulted in an almost complete internet outage. As of Thursday morning, nearly three-fourth of the country is devoid of internet connectivity.
Confirmed: #Iraq has blocked Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram and other platforms as of 12:30 UTC amid growing unrest as protesters approach Green Zone; network data show multiple providers affected; incident ongoing #Iraq_Protest #KeepItOn 📉
— NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) October 2, 2019
Internet outages, combined with the ongoing disturbances from protests, have left Iraqis struggling to communicate with each other; moreover, many citizens are no longer able to upload the video footage of the ongoing protests on the internet.
NetBlocks said that the major internet service providers such as Earthlink, Zain, and Asiacell were restricting internet access across the country. When such internet outages coincide with protests and unrest among citizens, it invariably points translates to internet censorship enforced by the Iraqi government.
While much of the country, as mentioned previously, including the capital Baghdad were disconnected from the rest of the world, the northern and autonomous region of Kurdish was still connected to the internet. NetBlocks said that the Kurdish region didn’t connect through the common internet service providers of Iraq due to which the area remained online.
Citizens’ dissatisfaction with the current government, lack of basic amenities such as round-the-clock electricity, and corruption allegations of a whopping $450 billion in state funds are a few reasons why the Iraqis are now turning against the government.
With nearly 19 people including a police officer killed so far, the rising unrest and mass protests, combined with malevolent practices such as internet censorship paint a grim picture of the country’s immediate future.