World Day Against Cyber Censorship

Today, March 12, is the World Day Against Cyber Censorship. Thus, it’s a perfect timing to finally pen down some of the ideas on the topic that I’ve intended to write for so long. Threatened Voices is a Global Voices Advocacy “collaborative mapping project to build a database of bloggers who have been threatened, arrested or killed for speaking out online and to draw attention to the campaigns to free them.”

As you can see from the map, Arabic speaking countries are a ‘hot area’ where many voices are threatened. I looked closely at the data to see what I can get out of it. My approach was to select a sample of the worst offenders and do a little comparison. I chose the following regimes for this mini-research project I did: Assad of Syria, Mubarak of Egypt, Ben Ali of Tunisia, Mohammed VI of Morocco, Saud of Saudi Arabia, Al Nahyan of UAE, and Sabah of Kuwait. Now wouldn’t it be interesting to see comparison between a regime’s years in power opposed to how many voices were threatened in those years? I thought so too and here’s what I found:

Voices Threatened Vs Years in Power

Voices Threatened vs. Years in Power*

As you can see, only Assad, Mubarak, and Saud achieved a higher number of threatened voices than years on the chair. With that they have won their countries a spot on the Reporters Without Borders list of internet enemies for the year 2010 along with Ben Ali for the overall number of voices threatened. Morocco was a close contender, but it didn’t make the top ten list. Here’s a pie chart to better represent the share of voices threatened by regime/country:

Voices Threatened Distribution

Voices Threatened Distribution

The podium goes to Egypt, Tunisia, and Syria; Their Mukhabarat are walking tall today.

On this day, I would like to pay tribute to all Syrian bloggers behind bars, and to all threatened voices around the world. I also want to point out one of the many guides on circumventing internet censorship that’s available for download in English and Arabic.

A world without internet censorship for me means being able to click on a link only worrying that it could have viruses, not that someone is virtually reading over your shoulder and keeping track of every page you happen to open. It also means being able to write a blog post, write a comment, or post a video online without worrying that you’d get up to three years in prison for it; and most of all it means that internet access in my country is held back, over 80% use dial-up, for years to keep online activity, and indeed activists, as controllable as possible.

You can see the Global Voices coverage of the day here, and here. Also, be sure to visit the campaign’s website on Reporters Without Borders:

*The “years in power count” is approximate and could be tiny bit off in some cases.




  1. sami says:

    The us is in the process to interduce a legislation in the UN for Electronic Freedom Act.
    see this
    http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2010/01/135519.htm

    • Anas says:

      I keep a healthy amount of skepticism as these acts seem to be mostly enforced against countries that don’t play nice with US foreign politics. Abuses in ‘Friendly’ countries like Saudi or Egypt often go unmentioned by US politicians.

  2. Thanks Anas for the information. Really Syria is advanced in this area!

  3. Victor says:

    Why is Israel not on this list? Surely the genocidal Zionist entity must suppress dissent in worse ways than the benevolent rulers of Syria and Egypt put together. Yet, I don’t see a single “threatened voice” registered for Israel. How could this be?

  4. sami says:

    Victor, we are not aware of any case in Israel related to threatened blogger. Also, Threatened Voices is a crowdsourcing project and anyone can submit a report. So if you know any case in Israel, please let us now by submitting it here and we’ll be glad to publish it.

    Anas, the Voices Threatened vs. Years in Power is amazing, cool idea!!

  5. Victor says:

    Sami, I apologize, I was being sarcastic. As we all know, there is freedom of press in Israel, and their regular newspapers write worse things about the government every day than any blogger could.

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