Internet blackouts are often considered to be highly controversial. After all, it is often used as a tool by oppressive regimes to enforce censorship on all residents. However, the latest blackout in Ethiopia is a result of a different mindset. The government decided this was the best course of action after the exam papers for grade 10 examinations were successfully leaked. Yes you’ve read right, and this isn’t a joke.
Ethiopia Pulled The Plug on Nationwide Internet
It is always disconcerting to see an entire nation disappear off the Internet for some reason. Oppressive regimes often cause nationwide internet blackouts as a way to enforce censorship and control the masses. Such measures should never be taken lightly unless there is absolutely no other viable option to address a specific problem. Leaked examination papers may not necessarily warrant such a drastic decision, though.
However, over in Ethiopia the government feels they have no other option. With the grade 10 examination papers leaked on the internet, the only course of action was to shut down access for the entire country. This means no one in the country can access the Internet under any circumstance, regardless of their reason to do so. Such a decision does not sit well with the general public by any means, though.
There has been no outbound internet traffic since this Tuesday, based on the information found in Google’s transparency report. On Wednesday morning, the problem still persisted, which warranted a further investigation as to what is going on exactly. It is not the first time incidents like these occur in Ethiopia, as there have been three internet blackouts over the past year. That is rather troublesome development.
The previous two incidents in the country revolved after a similar incident. In July of 2016, the internet was cut off in the country due to a university entrance exam getting leaked online. The second blockade, which occurred in August, had no official reasoning behind it, although it possible this had to do with another information leak. Resorting to blacking out an entire country because someone leaks information is taking things to a whole new level, though. This should never become a go-to solution for every small issue that arises.
Developing nations should embrace internet access, rather than restricting it as soon as something doesn’t go their way. Unfortunately, it appears these countries rather restrict internet access for everyone rather than ensuring issues like these can not occur again in the future. One would expect people to learn their lesson after the first data leak incident, but that does not appear to be the case in Ethiopia.
All of this goes to show we need to think of creating solutions rather than making things more problematic for the entire world. Cutting off access to information is never the answer to any problem, and governments such as the one in Ethiopia need to realize that sooner rather than later. Abuse of power is a very dangerous development. At this rate, Ethiopia will soon be labeled as an oppressive regime, rather than a developing nation.
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