NetBlocks metrics confirm wide-scale disruptions to internet connectivity in Syria from the morning of 24 May 2023. The daily network outages begin before 4 a.m. local time each morning and last some four hours, and are consistent with known measures the authorities use to prevent leaks and cheating in school exams.
⚠️ Update: Internet connectivity has been disrupted in #Syria for a second morning, matching the the government's published of scheduled practical and lab exams which officially commenced yesterday morning 🏫📉
📰 Report: https://t.co/chs1mjeMwB pic.twitter.com/BS5GBdKSMp
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) May 25, 2023
On 24 May 2023, Syria’s Ministry of Education commenced national practical and lab exams as per its published schedule, matching the onset of the internet disruptions. The official exam period extends into the summer and further instances are expected.
Addressing internet blackouts during exams
Around the globe, governments periodically impose internet shutdowns during school exams under the pretext of curbing malpractices. These acts, often severe and prolonged, disrupt digital rights, impede access to information, and create a ripple effect impacting social, economic, and civic life.
- Educational: Online learning resources, a crucial support for today’s digitally-oriented education, become inaccessible during shutdowns. Students miss out on educational opportunities, which is particularly harmful during exam periods.
- Economic: Internet shutdowns carry an enormous economic cost, disrupting digital economies and inhibiting the growth of sectors dependent on the internet.
- Societal: Shutdowns create information blackouts, leading to reduced transparency and accountability, hampering crisis communication, and inhibiting social and civic participation.
- Human Rights: They violate the fundamental right to information, freedom of expression, and privacy, undermining democratic principles.
- Promote Transparency: Advocate for governments to be transparent about their internet management policies, highlighting the adverse effects of shutdowns on society.
- Enforce Digital Rights: Lobby for the recognition of internet access as a fundamental human right, advocating for legal frameworks that protect this right.
- Engage Stakeholders: Collaborate with educational institutions, civil society organizations, and international bodies to raise awareness about the harmful impact of internet shutdowns.
- Support Technological Advancement: Develop and promote technology solutions to counter internet shutdowns, ensuring continuous access to information during these periods.
- Advocate Independent Internet Measurement: Push for the establishment of independent, objective, and comprehensive internet measurement. Monitoring the status of internet connectivity should not be under governmental control or influence, ensuring that reporting is unbiased and reflective of actual internet accessibility. By using technology developed by organizations like NetBlocks, this measurement can provide an unaltered picture of the state of internet shutdowns, contributing to the credibility of reports and strengthening advocacy efforts.
NetBlocks recommends against the use of network disruptions and social media restrictions to counter exam cheating, given their disproportionate impact to internet users including to their freedom of expression and digital prosperity.
NetBlocks diffscans, which map the IP address space of a country in real time, show internet connectivity levels and corresponding outages. Purposeful internet outages may have a distinct network pattern used by NetBlocks to determine and attribute the root cause of an outage, a process known as attribution which follows detection and classification stages.
NetBlocks is an internet monitor working at the intersection of digital rights, cyber-security and internet governance. Independent and non-partisan, NetBlocks strives to deliver a fair and inclusive digital future for all.
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