The original version of this post appeared on the Social Media Exchange blog.
A leaked document from Iraq's Ministry of Telecommunications shows that the government has decided that the best solution to fight false and embarrassing online news is by doing what Mubarak did three and half years ago in Egypt, kill the Internet. Multiple local journalists and experts have confirmed the veracity of the document.
In addition to being a violation of Iraqis’ rights, the action is seen as a rejection of efforts by Iraqi bloggers of the country-wide Iraqi Network for Social Media to fight false news not with censorship but with more accurate news. Search for the hashtag #INSM_iq as well as this list of trusted Twitter users from inside the country to follow developments.
The two-page document from the Ministry of Telecommunications in Iraq is dated June 15, under #5214. Below is an unofficial translation by Social Media Exchange:
To all Internet Service Providers (Oufok Al Samaa, IQ Network, Earth Network, Earthlink, AlSared, NouroZtel, FastIraq, ITC, HalaSat, AlJazeera):
Following the current security incidents and the exceptional situation that Iraq is having, and instructed by the Chancellery of the National Security, it is decided the below:
1- Shut down the Internet totally on these Provinces: Ninawa, Anbar, Saleh El Din, Kirkuk, Diyalah.
2- Block all access to VPN in all Iraq from 4 pm until 7 am on daily basis
3- Block all access to these websites in all Iraq: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Viber, Skype. In addition to other applications: Tango, Wechat, Instagram, didi
4- Block all access to Internet from all these areas: AlAdel, AlGhazlieh, Abu Greib, AlRadwanieh, AlMahmoudieh, AlLuteifiah, Falouja, Jarf Sakher, Al Taji, Al Youssfieh, Al Missyeb)
There will be a special security committee specialized to to check that you are following these instructions. The companies that won’t obey will be threatening the security of the country.
Saleh Hassan Ali
Acting General Manager
Several Iraqi activists who asked not to be quoted by name attributed the blocking to PM Maliki's failure to get a majority of Parliamentarians to announce state of emergency in Iraq. If this is true, then orders from the Maliki government and the Ministry of Telecommunication to ISPs to shut down the Internet stand in violation of Iraqi law. Companies have the right to decline the Ministry's request, but activists do not expect this to happen. As one person put it, “keeping their business is their priority — not their users’ rights.”