75% of Iraq's internet shut down amid mass protests

An internet watchdog reports the blackout started with social media.

Rae Hodge Former senior editor
Rae Hodge was a senior editor at CNET. She led CNET's coverage of privacy and cybersecurity tools from July 2019 to January 2023. As a data-driven investigative journalist on the software and services team, she reviewed VPNs, password managers, antivirus software, anti-surveillance methods and ethics in tech. Prior to joining CNET in 2019, Rae spent nearly a decade covering politics and protests for the AP, NPR, the BBC and other local and international outlets.
Rae Hodge
A protester rests on a sidewalk in Baghdad's Tahrir Square during clashes with riot police.

A protester rests on a sidewalk during clashes with riot police amid demonstrations against state corruption, failing public services and unemployment in Baghdad's Tahrir Square on Oct. 3. 

Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP via Getty Images

Internet access has been blocked across most of Iraq as mass anti-corruption protests continued into their third day. Internet access watchdog Netblocks reports that the blackout began with social media platforms on Wednesday and spread until roughly 75% of Iraq's internet, including in capital city, Baghdad, was shut down Thursday morning. 

The shutdown didn't affect the autonomous Kurdish region in the north, which uses a different system to get online, according to Netblocks. 

"On Wednesday afternoon, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger remained partially usable via mobile phones on some of the affected networks for some time. This is due to circumvention measures and alternative messaging protocols built into recent versions of the mobile apps," Netblocks said in a blog post. 

Government officials also imposed a round-the-clock curfew Thursday, as reported by Reuters. Both moves follow a growing number of political demonstrations during which 20 people have been killed, including one police officer. 

Internet access was cut off last year during similar protests in southern Iraq. As with other blackouts, the shutdown began with social media platforms and spread to other sites. 

Iraq's US embassy didn't immediately return CNET's request for comment.

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