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Algeria turns off the internet, blocks Facebook nationwide during student exams

Algeria turns off the internet, blocks Facebook nationwide during student exams

After questions from high school exams were leaked online in 2016, Algeria has taken a hard stance against the World Wide Web, deciding to shut off the country’s internet in rolling blackouts and block Facebook access during this year’s exam period, between June 20 and June 25.

Back in my day, if you wanted to cheat in an exam you’d just scribble the answers on your leg, roll up your shorts or your dress and — bang! — there’s your cheat sheet. Then Facebook came along and dedicated groups popped up, sharing exam secrets and trading answers.

Algeria suffered through rampant cheating and leaks in 2016, with students sharing exam questions online shortly after exams began.

In 2017, the country blocked social media access, hoping to curb the issue. But it appears that was not enough, so now the Algerian government has ordered its telecom companies to pull the plug on the internet over the exam period.

Fixed landline services and mobile internet services will be switched off for two to three hours a day following commencement of exams.

The BBC reports that education minister Nouria Benghabrit-Remaoun told Algerian newspaper Annahar that Facebook access would be blocked nationwide for the entire period.

Look what you’ve done, kids. How will doting mothers share Minions memes with you now?

Students and staff will also be required to hand over any electronic devices with internet access before they step into the exam hall and take their seats, and both surveillance cameras and metal detectors will be in use on site.

For the third year in a row, Iraq will restrict internet access in much the same way, as its cohort of high school students sit their final exams.

But will the measures restrict cheating? And how negatively do they impact a country?

Grant Baker, of open internet advocate group SMEX, told Al Jazeera, “It is safe to say that these shutdowns have a negative effect on the economy and in the event of a disaster, they could have an extremely negative effect as well.”