Iraq Seeks to Take ISIS Territory Off Internet to ‘Stop Propaganda’

Presses Satellite ISPs to Stop Allowing Users in Western Iraq

Given ISIS’ extremely successful online propaganda campaigns, the US and other nations have pushed websites like Twitter to severely restrict their activities, and to provide intelligence on the users they accuse of being ISIS sympathizers.

Iraq is taking a different tack, however, and is instead going after Internet service providers in Western Iraq, which is materially all held by ISIS, demanding that they stop allowing their customers to access the Internet at all out of ISIS territory.

Not that Iraq is a booming Internet-connected nation to start with. Broadband and fixed-line Internet is all but non-existent, especially in the Sunni Arab West, where very little infrastructure spending happens. Instead, most users have to rely on costly satellite hook-ups.

At Mosul’s electronics market, a satellite unit can run about $2,000 to $3,000, and subscriptions to VSAT service are costly. Still, it’s effectively the only game in town for accessing the Internet, and no obstacle for the cash-flush ISIS.

Iraq already has one satellite provider agreeing to stop service to customers in the west, though getting everybody on board could be difficult, and even then probably isn’t going to totally prevent communications coming out of ISIS territory in Iraq, let alone their broad territory in neighboring Syria. The most impacted will likely be individuals, not ISIS itself.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.