Posts Tagged ‘censorship’

Syrian Telecom Minister: The answer is raising awareness, not censorship

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Imad Saboni, Syrian Telecom Minister

According to Sada Souria, Syrian Telecom Minister, Imad Saboni, said in a recent lecture at Tishreen University that he personally believes that “effectively raising awareness of the dangers of the internet is the answer, not blocking websites.” Saboni alluded to the ban on GPS devices in Syria that was reversed lately after being in effect for so long. He said that GPS is finally allowed after endless controversy and that it’s now actually used on Civic Administration motor-vehicles. Of course the Minister did not miss the opportunity to launch in ill-informed statement saying that all countries block websites. While that might apply to a few dozen countries, the vast majority of the world does not censor the internet.

The latest statements reflect a conflict between the old guard and more pragmatic officials who see that the censorship policy simply does not work, that the pros of allowing new technologies has a greater positive impact on development than any imagined negative effects that might have on the stability of the political system in the country.   It’s worth mentioning  that in the early days of internet in Syria you had to have a police or intelligence officer look over your shoulder while you surfed the web at Al Assad Library in the heart of Damascus. Before that, satellite TV was banned as well. I remember laughing when my high school history teacher told us that radios were banned in Yemen for fear of foreign influence. Well, I’m not laughing now.

The Minister was clear that what he said was his own personal views, and that the current policies are in effect because it’s perceived that the internet is more of a danger than phone and mobile networks. I don’t want to read much into what he said, but there are hints of a change of policy that might be coming, just like with every other technology that was blocked partially or fully in the country.

Syria currently blocks dozens of websites including some major blogging platforms and social networks, along with humanitarian and political websites. However, circumvention has become common knowledge for a large swath of the tech savvy youth and thus is available to a majority of users. The government is aware of this, but the sporadic nature of online censorship means that very few websites were ever unlocked in Syria due to having too many parties involved in the process. Will other websites soon be free just like Wikipedia Arabic that was blocked for a while and then unblocked? One can only hope.


Freedom for Ali Abdulemam

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Ali Abdulemam is the founder of the very popular forum BahrainOnline.org, and a Global Voices Advocacy author. He was arrested on September 4th after receiving an order to appear at a National Security facility. Bahrain News Agency (BNA) claimed[ar] he was arrested while attempting to flee the country.

Ali was arrested once before in 2005 for reasons related with his online activity. His arrest now is a part of a government crackdown on internet websites and forums in Bahrain. A day before Ali’s arrest the Bahrain Center for Human Rights published an urgent call for action[ar] reporting arrests of human rights activists, politicians, and religious figures. The plea included reports of severe torture and prisoner abuse. The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) have also reported on a massive campaign to block dozens of websites and persecute activists and political figures.

You can contact Bahraini officials to demand freedom for Ali and other activists by using the following contact info provided by Bahrain Centre for Human Rights:

Sheik Hamad Bin Issa Al Khalifa
King of Bahrain
Fax: +973 176 64 587

Sheik Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa
Prime Minister
Fax: +973 1753 2839

Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa
Foreign Minister
Phone: +973 172 27 555
Fax: +973 172 12 603

Sheik Khalid Bin Ali Al Khalifa
Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs
Phone: +973 175 31 333
Fax: +973 175 31 284

You can also directly contact the Foreign Minister on twitter @khalidalkhalifa


World Day Against Cyber Censorship

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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 Read the rest of this entry »


Blogging for a Cause: Global Voices Advocacy

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As a part of Zemanta’s “Blogging for a Cause” month, I would like to pay homage to Global Voices Advocacy, a non-profit organization and sister project of Global Voices Online. Global Voices Advocacy, or “Advox” as it is affectionately called, seeks to advocate on behalf of the rights of bloggers and journalists. It is often the first major source to break stories (such as LinkedIn’s recent block of Syrian users or the arrest of Iranian-Canadian blogger Hossein Derakhshan) due to the fact that it has a number of on-the-ground resources in various countries around the world. Advox is very effective at what it does on a relatively small budget, and is definitely a cause worth supporting.

This blog post is part of Zemanta’s “Blogging For a Cause” campaign to raise awareness and funds for worthy causes that bloggers care about.


هل سئمت من حجب الانترنت؟

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من مثلي سئم من حجب مواقع الانترنت بشكل عشوائي أغلب الوقت، دون نواظم أو قواعد واضحة؟

ساعد مشروع Herdict Web في تكون صورة واضحة عن أي مواقع محجوبة في أي بلد وفي أي وقت، يمكنك فعل ذلك عن طريق موقع Herdict.org أو بتنزيل إضافة لمتصفح فايرفوكس.

المشروع تابع لمركز بيركمان للانترنت والمجتمع التابع لجامعة هارفارد، سوريا الآن ترتيبها الرابع في ترتيب البلدان التي تحجب المواقع بحسب Herdict  الذي أطلق مؤخراً وسيتم إطلاقه بالعربية والصينية قريباً

اضغط هنا لمشاهدة فيديو تعريفي بالمشروع، قمت بترجمة المقطع إلى العربية ويمكنكم اختيار لغة الترجمة من قائمة أسفل الفيديو.

شكراً وورد بريس لتحويل عملية إدراج فيديو ضمن المدونة إلى كابوس!

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