Iraq fails to regulate Internet at gunpoint

Posted on October 15, 2013  /  1 Comments

Saddam seems to be only physically absent in the post-Saddam Iraq. The Ministry of Communication, instead of an independent regulator, calls the shot in governing the country’s telecom sector. Recently it  erratically imposed a tax on the ISPs who procure Internet bandwidth from foreign carriers. The ISPs have immediately loaded that tax on retail prices. Bowing to  public anger, the government withdrew the tax. And it has asked the ISPs to reduce the price accordingly.

Meanwhile, the autonomous Kurdistan did not even impose any tax in the first place. Therefore, its ISPs also dodn’t require to lower their prices either. Yet Baghdad insisted the Kurdish ISPs to slash their retail Internet price. The Kurds brushed aside Baghdad’s foolish decree. Baghdad has responded with snapping Kurdish international links. The defiant Kurd ISPs bypassed Iraqi gateways and kept running the service. Red faced Baghdad retreated after 24 hours.

But the damage has already been done. Iraq’s Ministry of Communication first lost its face to the consumers and now it lacks moral authority to regulate the industry. Jim Cowie of Renesys has comprehensively captured the beauty of route-diversity while dodging the bullet from control freak Iraqi government.

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