RealNews

Iraq's Slippery Grip on the Internet

Rounding a corner to discover an Internet cafe in Iraq is a pleasant surprise indeed – and then one actually tries to use it. A foreign correspondent, arriving in Baghdad to cover the Iraqi crisis with the United Nations and a looming U.S. war, rushed into one of those cafes relieved that she secured a connection with the outside world. “I sat behind one of the computers in the cafe and confidently logged in to connect my e-mail,” the reporter said. A message appeared on the screen: “Access denied.” While to hope is human, to control is Iraqi, and Internet access in Saddam Hussein’s tightly managed and monitored country is as centralized as most of its other services. Internet service was first introduced to the Baath Party-ruled Arab nation in early 2000 and was limited to government institutions, universities, medical doctors, university professors and students preparing their master’s or doctoral degrees. But it soon began to spread because of growing demand by Iraqis eager to discover the new technology. Full Story

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