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Worrisome news for free online speech in Iraq, Uganda and Malaysia

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Worrisome news for free online speech in Iraq, Uganda and Malaysia

Iraq has taken extraordinary measures to guarantee that students do not cheat during their end-of-year exams: it cut off internet access altogether between 5am and 8am on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Apparently this is the time when teachers finalise questions, and the fear is some corrupt teachers might forward them to students through the internet.

Meanwhile, Uganda blocked access to Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp Wednesday and Thursday last week, as president Yoweri Museveni was sworn in for his 5th consecutive term amid claims of fraud. This is not the first time that social media access is restricted in Uganda, signalling a worrying pattern in limiting discussion that is critical of the president.

Finally, Malaysia is preparing legislation that “would impose criminal penalties for everyday use of the internet,” according to Access Now, granting new powers to the telecoms regulator and possibly making ISPs criminally liable for the content that passes over their networks. Local civil society groups are campaigning against the proposals.

In April, Access Now launched its #KeepitOn campaign to fight internet shutdowns worldwide. Its warnings about the alarming trend seem prescient in the light of the latest news.


Teemu Henriksson's picture

Teemu Henriksson


2016-05-18 12:12

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