Uzbekistan Halts Mobile Internet, Messaging Services to Prevent Exam Cheating

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The Central Asian country Uzbekistan halted Internet services during nationwide university entrance exams in an apparent effort to prevent cheating, according to reports. Some accounts suggested that authorities were concerned students would use mobile Internet and text-messaging to cheat on their exams.

The AFP said that as many as five mobile operators suspended mobile Internet and text and picture messaging starting at 9 a.m., citing “urgent maintenance work on telecommunications networks,” gazeta.uz reported. Voice services were not changed, the source said.

“Restrictions on additional services are introduced by mobile operators in Uzbekistan every year on the day of admission test exams,” the Russian-language website said.

The restrictions affected not just those taking tests, but all of the country’s estimated 19 million mobile phone users, according to the AFP.

The AFP said police conduct a thorough search for phones and cheat sheets before students enter a university building.

Uzbekistan, a former Soviet republic, is the most populous in Central Asia with a population of 28 million people. The country is approximately 278,000 square miles, or slightly larger than California by comparison.

Government officials have said advancement of IT is among its priorities in setting state policy.

“Considering the importance of modern information technologies in economic development, improvement of management, and enabling close collaboration between the government and the citizens, IT development has been set as one of priority directions of the state policy,” according to an official statement made in January 2011.

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Erin Harrison is Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives, for TMC, where she oversees the company's strategic editorial initiatives, including the launch of several new print and online initiatives. She plays an active role in the print publications and TechZone360, covering IP communications, information technology and other related topics. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives

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