ALGERIA HAS announced plans to shut down the entire country’s internet while its students take their baccalaureate exams.
The unprecedented step comes after a series of high-profile cheating incidents which have also led to the installation of metal detectors at 2,000 exam centres.
In 2016, security breaches were so extensive that many exam questions had already appeared on social media before the exams. Last year, social media was shut down in the country (because nobody has ever heard of VPNs, obviously) but it didn’t prevent widespread cheating. We’ve all been there.
So this year the country has gone several steps further. Mobile phone signal jammers (illegal in the UK) and CCTV cameras (definitely not illegal in the UK) have also been added in places where exam papers are printed.
Algerie Telecom says it shut off the internet “in compliance with instructions from the government, aimed at ensuring the high school diploma tests run smoothly,” according to The Guardian.
It won’t be down all the time, but for a two hour period every day during the tests. Social media, such as Facebook, will remain offline throughout.
Around 700,000 students are taking the exams, which conclude on Monday after which it is expected that the internet will be brought back online.
Education Minister Nouria Benghabrit told the Algerian press that she was “not comfortable” but “we should not passively stand in front of such a possible leak”.
This is far from a first – India, Ethiopia and Iraq are amongst the growing number of countries which have tried this approach, as we enter an age where detecting mobile devices that could be used to cheat is becoming more and more difficult.
Although the government’s intentions are usually worthy, removing the entire internet of a country can cause serious problems in other sectors such as finance and medical, where they can mean fortunes, or even vital organs being lost.
Not surprising, then, that although some Algerians are fine with the move, others wish to vent spleen. Just as soon as the surgeon can access the Wikihow again. µ
Source : Inquirer