Algeria Shuts Down Internet For 2 Hours So Students Can't Cheat In Exams

Internet connections were cut nationwide to coincide with two school tests.

Cover image via RTE

Algeria cut its Internet nationwide yesterday, 20 June, just to stop students from cheating in high school exams

The Guardian reported that Algeria cut its mobile and fixed Internet connections nationwide for two hours while two school tests were being held.

According to Algerian education minister Nouria Benghabrit, devices with Internet access were banned from more than 2,000 exam centres, and metal detectors were set up at the centres' entrances to halt the possibility of students cheating.

On top of that, mobile phone jammers and surveillance cameras had been installed at places where exam papers were printed to prevent questions from being leaked.

Algerian exam centre

Image via RTE

Public operator Algerie Telecom said the Internet blackout was in compliance with instructions from the Algerian government

"(The blackout is) aimed at ensuring the high school diploma tests run smoothly," the operator was quoted as saying by The Guardian.

Furthermore, president of the telecoms association AOTA, Ali Kahlane also confirmed that Algerian operators were required to comply with the government's demands.

Blackouts have been scheduled until next Monday, 25 June while 700,000 students take their exams.

While authorities claimed that the move is to prevent cheating in exams, some see it as a step towards tougher online censorship in Algeria

Algeria's communications minister Houda-Imane Feraoun recently said that the blackouts will stop students from sharing information on social media.

Image via Middle East Eye

Middle East Eye reported on 18 June that the blackouts are seen as efforts to restrict Algerians' Internet access ahead of the presidential elections in 2019. Many websites are no longer accessible within the country, including Siwel and Radio Kalima. Algeria's main news site Tout sur l'Algerie (TSA) was also inaccessible for weeks in 2017.

Just last month, the conviction of an Algerian blogger, Merzoug Touati for his online posts was criticised by human rights watchdog Amnesty International for quelling dissent in the country.

Merzoug was sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined DZD50,000 (approximately RM1,700) over his interview with an Israeli diplomat. Middle East Eye reported that he was found guilty of providing "intelligence to agents of a foreign power".

What do you think about Algeria's Internet blackout? Let us know in the comments below.

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