Saturday, August 22, 2009

Internet filtering by MENA Governments increasing

OpenNet Initiative recently released a report delivering an an updated view of Internet content controls in the Middle East and North Africa region, comparing findings to an earlier global survey carried out in 2006-2007.

The new study shows that Internet censorship has “continued apace in the region.”

Fourteen countries in the Middle East and North Africa, out of eighteen countries surveyed, filter Internet content using technical means.

"Our latest research results confirm the growing use of next generation cyberspace controls beyond mere denial of information," says Ron Deibert, ONI Principal Investigator and Director of the Citizen Lab at the Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto. "The media environment of the Middle East and North Africa region is a battle-space where commercially-enhanced blocking, targeted surveillance, self-censorship, and intimidation compete with enhanced tools of censorship circumvention and mobile activism."

Apparently, Internet censorship in the region is increasing in both scope and depth, and filtering of political content continues to be the common denominator among filtering regimes there.

Governments also continue to disguise their political filtering, while acknowledging blocking of social content, and censors are catching up with increasing amounts of online content, in part by using filtering software developed by companies in the U.S."

Examples of issues that the ONI research reveals include Qatar's blocking of online educational health content such as the Web site of the Health Promotion Program at Columbia University; Syria's blocking of political Web sites such as Facebook; the UAE's blocking of a number of sites that present information on Nazism, Holocaust deniers, and historical revisionists, and sites that are hosted on Israel's .il domain; and two Yemeni ISPs' use of Websense.

Regarding Jordan, the OpenNet website reports that, “Access to Internet content in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan remains largely unfettered, with filtering applied to a single news Web site.”

OpenNet Initiative (, is a partnership among groups at four leading universities: Toronto, Harvard, Cambridge, and Oxford, funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The 2008-2009 Middle East and North Africa regional overview and country profiles can be accessed at n


At 10:07 PM , Blogger Justin Davis said...

Interesting article. Can you send me a link to your other posts?

Justin Davis
Internet Filter


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