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Internet blackouts could cost Iraq $40 million per day as protests spread

By Rudaw 17/7/2018
Iraqi demonstrators use cell phones to film protests in the central shrine city of Najaf on July 14, 2018. Photo: Haidar Hamdani | AFP
Iraqi demonstrators use cell phones to film protests in the central shrine city of Najaf on July 14, 2018. Photo: Haidar Hamdani | AFP

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Iraqi government's limiting of internet usage could cause a loss of $40 million per day as protests across Iraq's southern and eastern provinces enter a second week, according to an internet monitor.


"The present internet shutdown may cost Iraq's economy some $40,000,000 per day in lost business, sales and opportunities as it enters the working week," read a statement based on data collection by, an internet shutdown observatory, regarding blackouts which began on Saturday.


The Cost of Shutdown Tool (COST), created by NetBlocks and the Internet Society, is used to measure the economic ramifications of disrupting internet access. The tool is supported by the D.C.-based think tank, The Brookings Institution.


Outages in already cash-strapped Iraq have varied by internet service provider, type of connection, and type of plan or device.


The Iraqi government imposed a full internet shutdown across the southern provinces of Iraq, including Baghdad and Kirkuk, as well as Basra, the origination of the protests which began over lack of basic services.


Mobile applications which have messaging features like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat also have been blocked.



The blackouts primarily affect businesses that rely on social media for marketing and sales.


"Iraq is known to use internet controls to suppress dissent, provide operational security during conflicts, and even as a measure to prevent cheating in school exams," added the report.


The group, which propagates the #KeepItOn movement, is encouraging people in Iraq to scan a QR code to help track the outages.



The main complaint of demonstrators in southern Iraq is a lack of jobs. The official unemployment rate in Iraq is 10.8 percent, but that figure doubles among the country's large young population. Nearly 59 percent of Iraq's population is under the age of 25.


The people of Basra first started their protests on July 9. The protests then spread to eight other provinces, with similar demands to those in Basra for electricity and services.


Hisham al-Hashimi, a security advisor to influential Sunni politician Salim al-Jabouri tweeted on Monday, that through nine days of protests 487 people (protestors and security personnel) have been injured. Ninety-three people have been arrested for vandalism and violent behavior in the southern protests.


The Iraqi government is employing all possible means to end the protests, including deploying security forces under a state of emergency and pledging to invest in infrastructure in addition to cutting internet access.


Peleng | 17/7/2018
"through nine days of protests 487 people have been injured" a couple of days ago before Rudaw started to cover the story fully this figure was "8 civilians injured", when I posted a few comments and relayed some facts about how bad it really is the internet trolls here downvoted my comments left and right. The situation is REALLY bad, much more severe than stated here, riots and chaos everywhere, several civilians have been killed, international airline and oil companies have shut down most places in the south. Probably within a week or so Baghdad will be burning. Now knock yourselves out with down voting my comment in hope's that it will stop the inconvenient truth, this has not sunk in with most people yet
Raad | 17/7/2018
cutting internet services shows how desperate the Iraqi government is getting. and it's backfiring because people are learning to bypass it with different apps and tweaks

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