Iraq goes Mobile

There was little difference between the Internet and the regular postal mail system when Saddam Hussein was in power. Emails would be sent to a central monitoring unit which would screen the content and determine whether to forward it on to the intended recipient. According to Ameer, the replies to these emails were also censored and would sometimes take weeks to get through, if ever. As for the few Internet cafes that existed (in hotels), communication was regularly monitored and some websites blocked.

This recalls the days of the Soviet Union where centralization was also taken to an extreme. As Brafman and Beckstrom note, if someone in Siberia made a phone call to a comrade living just a hundred miles away, the call would be routed through Moscow. In fact, all phone calls were routed through Moscow. Evidently, the Soviets weren’t the first and certainly not the last to impose central control of communication lines. The expression “All roads lead to Rome” reflected the Roman Empire’s highly centralized transportation system, which in a way was also the information super roadway of the day.

Iraq had no mobile phone network prior to the US invasion, and as Ameer notes, even satellite phone were banned. Today, there are three mobile networks and a dozen Internet Service Providers, which means millions of users. And despite the violence, ISPs continue to roll out Internet and modern telephony systems across the war torn country. Is an Iraqi Smart Mob potentially in the making?

Patrick Philippe Meier

One response to “Iraq goes Mobile

  1. Pingback: Back to the Future: ICT in CCCP « iRevolution

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