Internet’s future uncertain in post-war Iraq

, by Access Now

In the aftermath of the 2003 US invasion, Iraq has struggled to rebuild infrastructure critical to providing citizens basic tools for economic, political, and social justice and prosperity.

Among the government’s main initiatives is increasing access to the internet and other channels of communication. One of the biggest challenges thus far has been expanding physical connections, in a country characterized by irregular electricity, insecurity, and distributed cities. Satellite and mobile data have been critical to efforts to increase internet penetration to more than 2% of the population, currently the worst in the Arab world.

Despite these efforts, the quality of access in Iraq—the future of uncensored and unmonitored communications—seems under threat.

Iraq lacks significant regulation for the protection of digital rights and freedom. As a result, citizens are subject to discretionary policies set by private companies operating in the ICT sector. Some of these policies lack basic guarantees, such as the protection of personal information and user data. Some companies operate under practices that permit the disclosure of personal data without user consent when the property of the company is at risk. Without policy standards for determining data disclosure thresholds, and in the absence of legal frameworks for customer recourse, user rights and personal information are subject to arbitrary operating practices and lack the most basic protections.

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