Is Iraq downing internet access to stop kids cheating on exams?

17 May 2016

A look at internet connectivity in Iraq has thrown up a bizarre, yet seemingly plausible, theory: state authorities are blocking the internet during times of school exams to stop kids cheating.

Calling Iraq a nanny state is an odd concept. Then again, blocking Google so teenagers can’t look up how many countries border your own is pretty odd, too.

According to Dyn Research, which monitors outages globally, Iraq downed its internet for three hours on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

This is the time kids (aged around 11 or 12) are sitting exams, and it’s not the first time it has happened, apparently.

According to an email attained by, the Iraq communications department instructed ISPs to shut down during these specific times.

Considering cheating during exams is hardly a Google-pioneered phenomenon, probably dating as far back as when exams were first sat, this is a bizarre attempt at state control, if true.

However, the Iraq government has form here. As reported by The Independent in the UK in 2014, 25pc of Iraq was left without internet, while only limited access existed in the rest of the state, in a bid to halt a growth in popularity of the so-called Islamic State.

“There was certainly a lot of skepticism about this explanation last summer, but the outages did coincide with exams and nothing emerged to dispute the explanation,” Doug Madory, DYN’s director of internet analysis, told Vocativ.

Vocativ’s report suggests the target of the outage is actually teachers who sell on exam questions to schoolkids, noting the early hours of the morning as when the list is set.

Bagdhad image via Rasoulali/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic