Iraqi authorities shut down Internet amid protests

On 2 October, NetBlocks reported that the Iraqi authorities had disabled access to social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and the messaging application WhatsApp. Several days later, on 8 October, Internet access was cut off in Baghdad amid violent anti-government protests. Services remained accessible via virtual private networks (VPNs) which allowed Iraqis to document and follow the events taking place during the protests on social media. The Internet blackout was denounced by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) for restricting news coverage of the protests and freedom of the press. ‘By shutting down the Internet and forcibly preventing journalists from covering the protests, Iraqi authorities seem to be intent on creating a black hole for news. We call on the Iraqi authorities to immediately restore full Internet access and ensure that journalists can do their job freely and safely’, stressed CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa representative, Ignacio Miguel Delgado. Following the events, an Iraqi lawyer filed a lawsuit against the Iraqi minister of telecommunications for restricting Internet access during the protests and requested compensation for the ‘damage of infringement on freedom’.