Monday, October 16, 2006

Jordanian Bloggers Triumph Against TRC

Well, it seems the pressure from bloggers, journalists and various IT-activists has caused the Telecommunications Regulation Committee (TRC) to unblock Sykpe!

This has got to be one of the few cases of a governmental organization in Jordan reversing its decision due to civil pressures.

The Jordan Times published a story on October 13, 2006. Here it is:

Skype services back on track

By Ramsey Tesdell

AMMAN — The Telecommunications Regulatory Commission has decided to allow Skype services to resume a month after they were blocked.

Director of the commission’s regulatory department, Al Ansari Al Mashaqbah, confirmed yesterday that the recent decision to block Skype had been reversed.

The official told The Jordan Times that the security issues, cited as the reason for the block, had been resolved.

Skype is a software programme that allows users to make cheap phone calls over the Internet using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology, which has grown in popularity in recent years.

The commission had sent a fax to all Internet service providers in the Kingdom on September 13 to notifiy them of the decision to block the use of Skype.

Technical support representatives at Batelco and Wanado confirmed that they had received word from the commission ordering them to block the Skype website and that all Internet service providers in the country had been asked to abide by this new policy.

The fax said Skype had been blocked because of security reasons.

The popular software programme uses an encryption method that came under attack recently. Technical support representatives at Wanado said the reasons Skype was being targeted was because of possible terrorist activity, and the inability to monitor Skype conversations.

A similar instance in China’s Shenzhen Province saw Skype services blocked for a short time until it abided by local laws. China Telecom, which ordered it blocked, reversed its decision after security issues were resolved.

Meanwhile, Skype users in the country reacted to the order to block VoIP services with dismay.

David DeBartolo uses Skype to communicate with colleagues around the world while living in Amman. DeBartolo, a Fulbright researcher with the Binational Fulbright Commission, was one of the first to discover that Skype services had been suspended.

Upon contacting the commission, he received a response that Skype services had been blocked for security reasons.

“Justification that it was blocked for security reasons is unfounded and absolute nonsense,” said Omar Qawas, a professional in the IT business, who has been using Skype for two years to stay in contact with friends and colleagues around the world.

Qawas told The Jordan Times that Skype was “a reliable alternative to using regular phones or mobiles, and much more cost-effective.”


At 2:13 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW! a government that listens. This could be the start of....god forbids...a government by the people and for the people.

one small click for a blogger, one giant leap for the IT community in Jordan (i know about the grammar controversy..but still like the original quote)

At 4:23 AM , Anonymous Nas said...

well first of all the handful of bloggers who protested didnt put any pressure on the TRC

and second of all without effective legislative regulation the TRC and most ministries or government organization operate in the same way in spite of immense social protest most of the time.

and this was one issue that mattered very little compared to other things.

lastly the government reversed its decision based on resolving whatever security issues it had. if it didnt resolve them it would've had no problem leaving it blocked.

At 11:22 AM , Anonymous Ahmad Humeid said...


do you have any evidence that the bloggers reaction mattered. I would be more than happy to hear about this.


Do you have any concrete information about the supposed security issue?

At 11:51 AM , Anonymous Nas said...

Ahmad, there's no such thing as concrete anything in Jordan except for the sidewalks. but yes i do have my sources.

in any case, if you or anyone can offer me a plausible arguement as to why the government would want to ban skype i'd be interested in hearing it. i like to keep an open mind about these things.

At 2:04 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"government reversed its decision based on resolving whatever security issues it had. "

If you belive this Ahmad, I have a bridge to sell you. Of course I am not 100% certain, but we know our government by now. IMHO, this is a face-saving spin. Imagine if they admit that public pressure --god forbid-- made a difference.

Second, as to proof the blogger mase a difference. I have none, but we have the ARAMEX/KHARAMEX story if you recall where the CEO reacted to the angry posts.

I think the TRC and its staff are not too far from the realm of Jordanian bloggers. I have this feeling, which I cannot prove of course, that when the tech community called the TRC security bluff, they back down.

At 2:42 PM , Blogger Zeid Nasser said...

Thank you all for your comments!

I agree that TRC or JT staff are aware of what's on the blogs ... I've personally met with people at these organizations and told them all about blogging and JordanPlanet.

And, please note that the piece on my blog is also my column in The Star newspaper, which mentions bloggers and for which I got some responses (by email) this week from the staff of a couple of embassies and corporates .... so, the word does get out!

At 6:26 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

If skype is blocked that is just not fare so i found a way around it and no one can stop me from calling with skype when its "blocked" :) I use a service from the following site

VPN Connections

Hope it helps others too.

P.s. they also will provide a new connection if the isp block the ip you connect to to establish a vpn.

Read all about it on the site.
Skype Unblocked


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