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  • sami ben gharbia 6:17 pm on August 8, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , blackberry,   

    Blackberry facing growing pressure in the Gulf and India over encryption code [Updated] 

    Timeline of the Blackberry ban in the Arab world - Click to enlarge

    The United Arab Emirates’ Telecommunications Regulation Authority (TRA) and The Saudi Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) announced, respectively on August 1st 2010 and on August 5th, 2010, that they will block some functions of the Blackberry due to non-compliance with the regulatory requirements in both countries.

    And while the UAE will cut off some BlackBerry services such as BlackBerry Messenger, BlackBerry E-mail and BlackBerry Web-browsing as of October 11, 2010, Saudi Arabia had ordered the kingdom’s three mobile phone providers, Etihad Etisalat-Mobily, Saudi Telecom Company (STC) and Zain Saudi Arabia, to block all BlackBerry’s services, including e-mail and instant messaging, starting from tomorrow, Friday, August 6th, 2010.

    This ban, which according to both countries, will remain in place until BlackBerry applications are in full compliance with local regulations, will seemingly affect more that 500,000 BlackBerry users in the UAE and 700,000 users in Saudi Arabia.

    The main reason of the ban seems to lie in the way BlackBerrys handle data and in the judicial and security concerns of the encrypted communications sent to computer servers outside of the two countries. Since BlackBerry’s Messages are sent in an encrypted format through BlackBerry’s servers in Canada, which are run by the manufacturer Research in Motion (RIM), both Gulf states regulatory bodies are upset that they are unable to monitor the data traffic on BlackBerry’s handsets.

    The UAE’s Telecommunications Regulation Authority says that “in their current form, certain BlackBerry services allow users to act without any legal accountability, causing judicial, social and national security concerns.”

    However, and as explained by CPJ Advocacy Coordinator Danny O’Brien:

    With suitable technical investment in domestic Internet monitoring, the UAE can decode a great deal of BlackBerry traffic without RIM’s help. When it comes to secure, encrypted communications, neither RIM nor any other telecommunication provider will be able to help them beat the encryption and spy on their own journalists or readers. The power lies far less in the hands of RIM, and far more in the hands of savvy Net users’ choice of the right tools.

    According to Dr. Christopher M. Davidson, a Gulf specialist and author of “Dubai: The Vulnerability of Success“, the United Arab Emirates’ ban on BlackBerry email and messenger is “primarily a response to mounting political opposition“:

    It is also a stark reminder of the current regime’s disingenuous attitudes, its invasive censorship practises, and its intensifying control over the flow of information between the country’s citizens, its millions of expat residents, and all of their contacts with the outside world. Unlike other smartphones, such as Apple’s ubiquitous iPhone, data transferred using BlackBerrys has proved difficult to intercept and monitor for third parties, including the UAE’s state security services and other ill-intentioned eavesdroppers.

    This interpretation seems to be confirmed by the recent arrest of several BlackBerry users in the United Arab Emirates for allegedly trying “to organise a protest against an increase in the price of gasoline” using Blackberry messages:

    BBM user Badr Ali Saiwad Al Dhohori, an 18-year-old resident of Ras Al Khaimah, has reportedly been held in Abu Dhabi since 15 July. The authorities were able to trace the organiser, known as “Saud,” because he included his BlackBerry PIN in a BBM message he sent calling for the protest. They held Saud for a week and interrogated him to trace those he had been messaging. Accused of inciting opposition to the government, he has lost his job. At least five other members of the group have reportedly been summoned by the police or are still being sought.

    In the main time, the pressures from government authorities worldwide on Blackberry maker, the Canadian Research In Motion, are growing for access to Balckberry data. In an attempt to prevent an outright ban in India, RIM has recently agreed to allow Indian security agencies to monitor its BlackBerry services:

    The company has offered to share with security agencies its technical codes for corporate email services, open up access to all consumer emails within 15 days and also develop tools in 6 to 8 months to allow monitoring of chats

    In Kuwait, at the request of Kuwait’s communication ministry, RIM has reportedly agreed to block 3000 pornographic websites by the end of the year, and is working with Kuwait on “legal controls that would guarantee national security on the one hand, and the rights of citizens…to use the device’s services on the other.”

    In Bahrain, the widely used BlackBerry chat groups have been banned since April 2010 over the “chaos and confusion” that would result from sharing and distributing local news through these groups.

    Back in 2007, RIM has reportedly provided its encryption keys to the Russian Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) “which, in turn, provided access to the Federal Security Service (FSB)“.

    Update 1 (August 5th 2010): Indonesia is considering banning BlackBerry services. Gatot Dewabroto, spokesman for the Ministry of Communication and Information declared: “We don’t know whether data being sent through BlackBerrys can be intercepted or read by third parties outside the country.”

    Update 2 (August 6th 2010): It has been reported that the Algerian government is reviewing the use of BlackBerry. “We are looking at the issue. If we find out that it is a danger for our economy and our security, we will stop it,” the Telecommunications Minister Moussa Benhamadi said.

    Update 3 (August 6th 2010): Lebanon is considering to assess security concerns relating to the use of BlackBerry in the country. “We are studying the issue from all sides — technical, service-wise, economic, financial, legal and security-wise,” the acting head of the Telecoms Regulatory Authority told Reuters. “We are discussing this with the concerned administrations and ministries.

    Update 4 (August 6th 2010): Yestrday, August 5th, 2010, the Tunisian mobile operator, Tunisiana, announced that it will suspend the email function of the Blackberry phones for three days citing concerns about security risks.

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  • sami ben gharbia 2:46 pm on May 28, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , manif22mai, SayebSala7,   

    Anti-censorship movement in Tunisia: creativity, courage and hope! 

    A cartoon by the prominent Tunisian blogger and cartoonist Z

    Following the recent massive wave of online censorship carried out by the Tunisian censor, targeting major social websites, such as the popular video-sharing websites, flickr, blogs aggregators, blogs, facebook pages and profiles, the anti-censorship movement adopted very creative, outspoken and brave tactics in protesting the online censorship. A censorship that is not only harming the country’s average Internet users but is also affecting professionals whose work is relying on web 2.0 services and platforms, like youtube, flickr and other media-sharing websites.

    Far from being exaggerated, the Tunisian anti-censorhip movement is one of the best innovative in the world and has been adopting creative approaches and tactics from its early beginning to its current stage. From Yezzi Fock Ben Ali! (Enough is enough, Ben Ali!) and its online protest “Freedom of Expression in Mourningorganized during The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) held in Tunis in November 2005, to the Google Earth bombing for a free Tunisia, and the several national days and white notes against censorship, despite its technical and tactical advantages, has never managed to go offline and reach out to the average masses of Tunisian Netizens. It was mainly limited to a hard core of digital activists and bloggers who are pushing for a political and social change by making sure to remain independent from any political party while putting their struggle for online free speech within the continual and broader battle for fundamental rights and justice led by the civil society.

    But things are about to change, since the new wave of online censorship is affecting everybody and is not anymore targeting the very dissent and political blogs and websites. Which is why it was not surprising at all to see how much the Tunisian internet community is abuzz with discussions related to various aspects of censorship policy and how much it is embracing and contributing to the anti-censorship protest.

    The new anti-censorship efforts, which were prepared and organized publicly online by grassroots activists – on facebook, twitter and Google Groups and Docs – were involved in a wide range of initiatives and here are the most important ones:

    However, the move that will revolutionize the entire protest had the merit to bring it offline. All started when the virtual protest culminated in a non-virtual one with the initiative Nhar 3la 3ammar (A day against the censor, or manif22mai, #manif22mai on twitter). Two activists and bloggers, Slim Amamou (@slim404) and Yassin Ayari, took upon themselves the courageous responsibility of calling to rally in front of the Tunisian Ministry of communication technologies on May 22nd, while ensuring to request a permit and respect the proper legal procedures which are required to hold a rally. The rally in Tunisia was also part of a May 22 worldwide day against Internet filtering in the country.

    Slim and Yassine, joined at a certain point by Lina Ben Mhenni, mastered the art of communication by making sure to update their friends and sympathizers about each step they are taking, producing a serie of videocasts published on the not-yet-blocked video-sharing website vimeo as well as on facebook.

    And the expected happened: on May 21, a day before the rally, the two main organizers were arrested and investigated during the entire day. They appeared later on separate video messages where they were forced by the security forces to call off the rally and urge protestors to stay home. Slim was also forced to sign a document stating that he “understood that his call for a demonstration is wrong.”

    The Police demanded that Slim records a video asking people not to show up for the planned demonstration. Apparently, Slim had to negotiate the terms of this “friendly public service announcement.” Afterwards, he had to sign a document saying that he “understood that his call for a demonstration is wrong” and then he was driven out by the police to record that “friendly reminder to stay home” aimed to dissuade people from demonstrating.

    The same evening, a communiqué signed by the friends of Yassine & Slim – translated here by our friend from Morocco, Hisham (also available in French and in Arabic) alerted the public opinion and called for a plan B: “walk on Avenue Habib Bourguiba, in downtown Tunis, wearing white shirts and sit in the cafes on May 22nd at 3 pm, as a symbolic act to protest internet censorship“:

    #manif22mai - May 22, 2010 - photo by Olfa (@mimouna on twitter)

    Friday May 21th, from 11 am local Tunis time and until now (6.30 pm), it has become impossible to contact any of both organizers of the citizen’s march, Slim Amamou and Yassin Ayari. This comes despite the fact that both organizers insisted they wouldn’t turn off their cell phones, not today, nor tomorrow, and that in the case their phones were not working they would use any internet connection from any public space nearby. Add to this the fact that Slim’s car was parked near Habib Bourguiba Street, and that most probably both organizers were contacted by the Ministry of the Interior to announce the march was disallowed (…), we assume tat they are now at the headquarters of the Ministry of the Interior or any of its affiliate centers.

    Tomorrow, May 22 is the day of the march, called for by Slim and Yassin, who strictly followed the procedures prescribed by the law protecting the right to protest set forth by the constitutional (specifically Law No. 4 of 24 January 1969 “organizing public meetings and processions and demonstrations and gatherings,” particularly the chapters from Part II and Chapter I in Part I). We call on all citizens to consult the text of the law governing the right to demonstrate available in Arabic and French.

    […]

    No one can declare the march “illegal” (nor “legal” for that matter) if the initiators can’t lead it. And until this moment it seems there is no possibility that they would. But at the same time, and as friends of Slim and Yassin, we can’t ignore the many indicators that prove that the march has been banned indeed. And it is necessary to inform everybody of all obstacles and difficulties so as not to leave Slim and Yassin exposed to liability or legal consequences in case the march is declared illegal.

    At the same time we call upon all those who do not see the possibility of participating in the march to join the following initiative.

    The initiative was clearly supported by Slim and it calls on supporters to walk on Avenue Habib Bourguiba wearing white shirts and sit in the cafes on Saturday at three o’clock pm, as a symbolic show of protest against [internet censorship]. At the same time we call on everyone to respect the campaign slogans and principles and focus on the issue of internet censorship and continue all efforts aimed at denouncing censorship by following legal means. Of course, we are also calling for the release of Slim and Yassin (if they are not freed before three o’clock on Saturday 22 May), free of any legal prosecution, since they upheld all legal procedures as mentioned earlier.

    On May 22, Tunisians living abroad took to the street in front of their country’s embassies and consulates in Paris, Bonn and New York. In Tunis, dozens of young Tunisians have managed to converge on Avenue Habib Bourguiba and took part in the protest. And even if the presence of uniformed and plain-clothes police barring access to the flash mob site and making it impossible for an important number of sympathizers – easily recognizable by their white T-shirts – to join the protest or remain seated in the café terraces, Tunisia’s first flashmob protesting online censorship was a successful story that should inspire us all.

    #manif22mai - Avenue Habib Bourguib, Tunis, May 22, 2010 - photo by Houeida Anouar

    #manif22mai - Avenue Habib Bourguib, Tunis, May 22, 2010 - This girl has been arrested the same day, no news about her whereabouts- photo by Houeida Anouar

    #manif22mai - Montreal, May 22, 2010 - photo by Haroun Bouazzi

    #manif22mai - Paris, in front of the Tunisian consulate, May 22, 2010 - photo by Nhar 3la 3ammar

     
  • sami ben gharbia 10:14 am on April 29, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , blip.tv, , , ,   

    Tunisia: flickr, video-sharing websites, blogs aggregators and critial blogs are not welcome 

    Tunisia is carrying out one of the most massive wave of online censorship targeting major social websites, video-sharing websites, blogs aggregators, blogs, facebook pages and profiles. The most recent victim of this wave is flickr, the popular and one of the best online photo-sharing website, blocked today, April 28th, 2010.

    flickr-ban-tunisia.jpg

    flickr_banned_tunisia.png

    Last week, on April 22, 2010, Tunisia has added 3 more websites to its list of banned video-sharing websites in the country. Blip.tv, metacafe.com and vidoemo.com are not welcome aymore in the country. In early April, 2010, On march, 19th, 2010, WAT.TV, another social networking and media-sharing website, which is believed to be the 3rd video broadcaster on the Internet in France, has also been blocked.

    The targeting of video-sharing websites by Tunisian censors started on September 3rd, 2007, with the ban of Dailymotion, then it was the turn of Youtube to be banned from the country’s Internet on November 2nd, 2007.

    On it’s posterous page, Nawaat.org has published an updated list of the banned video-sharing websites in the country, stating that:

    These video sharing websites are illegaly blocked in Tunisia (no judicial decision has ordered them). This is done by violating, inter alia, the article 8 of the Tunisian Constitution and article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    At least 11 more blogs censored on the same day

    Yesterday, April 27, 2010, Tunisia has blocked access to at least 11 blogs because of their criticism against the government and its censorship policy:

    1. http://amchafibled.blogspot.com
    2. http://trapboy.blogspot.com
    3. http://antikor.blogspot.com
    4. http://arabasta1.blogspot.com
    5. http://yatounes.blogspot.com
    6. http://abidklifi.blogspot.com
    7. http://ounormal.blogspot.com
    8. http://carpediem-selim.blogspot.com
    9. http://bent-3ayla.blogspot.com
    10. http://artartticuler.blogspot.com
    11. http://blog.kochlef.com

    Prior to that, and between April 21 and April 23, 2010, two Tunisian blogs aggregators have ben blocked, tuniblogs.com and tunisr.com.

    And, on April 23, 2010, Tunisia blocked two online platforms of the opposition Ettajdid party (legal, former communist party) « les Amis d’Attariq » (Friends of Attariq) blog and the online weekly of the party Attariq al-Jadid (The New Way) are now blocked.

    Hacking of dissident blogs

    The website of the online campaign Yezzi Fock Ben Ali! (Enough is enough, Ben Ali!, which was blocked in Tunisia 18 hours after being launched in 2005) has been hacked again (first hack on November 7th, 2007), and it’s still down to this moment. As a security measure and in order to engage with the 1.4 million Tunisians users on Facebook, the campaign has moved to Facebook.

    The same day (April 26, 2010) as the banning of critical blogs was carried out, another technique has been used to further muzzle the online free speech: the collective blog nawaat.org and the personal blog of one of its admin, Astrubal, have been hacked, deleting their database and ftp files.

    As we noted in a previous post about online free speech in Tunisia, “almost every single Tunisian opposition website and self-hosted blog has been the victim of one or more hacking incidents. While there is no solid evidence that the Tunisian regime is behind attempts to take down opponent websites, there is quite a strong feeling among Tunisian opposition figures that the government is carrying out cyber-attacks, given their frequency and the nature of the targeted websites and blogs.”

    naw-hack-26-4-10.gif

    And on another note, it seems that Opera Mini for iPhone, launched on 14 April, 2010, is blocked in Tunisia. This is probably due to a bug in the Opera browser or to a ban of its build-in proxy. Here is a screenshot taken from Tunisia.

    opera-blocked.png

     
    • Amhmed 4:44 pm on April 29, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Arrêtez de dire des choses sans vérifier. ce n’est pas une censure. tous les sites sans www sont inaccessibles. il suffit d’ajouter les 3 w et vous y êtes.

  • sami ben gharbia 12:29 pm on December 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ab09, , creative-commons   

    حوار حول المشاع الإبداعي في العالم العربي 

    على هامش الملتقى الثاني للمدونين العرب الذي عقد في بيروت من 8 إلى 12 ديسمبر 2009، أجريت حوارا مع المدون و الناشط المصري أحمد غربية و مع منسقة مؤسسة المشاع الإبداعي في المنطقة العربية، دوناتالا دلا راتا، تحدثا فيه عن واقع المشاع الإبداعي في العالم العربي و عن القيود القانونية المتعلقة بحماية حقوق الملكية الفكرية و كذا الجوانب الثقافية المرتبطة بدعم الثقافة الحرة في منطقتنا.

    [blip.tv ?posts_id=2995090&dest=-1]

     
  • sami ben gharbia 5:35 pm on November 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ,   

    Liberté d’expression sur Internet: Ouvrir les frontières 

    Le 03 Novembre 2009, j’ai eu l’honneur de participer à la conférence Breaking Borders («Ouvrir les frontières»), consacrée à la liberté d’expression sur internet, organisée par Google pour commémorer le 20ème anniversaire de la chute du mur de Berli.

    Parmi les participants il y avait: Thorbjørn Jagland (Secrétaire général du Conseil de l’Europe), Dean Wright (Global Editor, éthique, innovation et normes Nouvelles, Reuters), Rachel Whetstone (Vice-présidente Gestion des produits chez Google, Communications internationales et affaires publiques), Jean-François Julliard (Secrétaire général de Reporters Sans Frontière), Annette Kroeber-Riel (Google- Conseiller en Politique Européenne pour l’Allemagne, l’Autriche et la Suisse), Andrew Puddephat (Directeur, Global Partners and Associates et directeur général de l’organisation internationale ARTICLE 19 basée à Londres) et Rita Süssmuth (Ancienne présidente du Deutsche Bundestag -Parlement allemand)

    À cette occasion, Google a lancé une chaîne YouTube dédiée à la liberté d’expression : GoogleFreeExpression’s Channel.

    Vous trouverez ci-dessous un enregistrement vidéo de la discussion ainsi qu’une interview que j’ai donné à la chaîne GoogleFreeExpression’s Channel sur Youtube.

     
  • sami ben gharbia 11:37 am on November 6, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: arabicca, , , ,   

    Tunisia: blogger Fatma Riahi arrested and could face criminal libel charge 

    update 1: November 6th, 2009 – Lawyer Ben Debba said fatma has been transferred to Bouchoucha police station and might be summoned to appear before a public prosecutor.

    update 2: November 7th, 2009 – Lawyer Ben Debba said that fatma has been released.

    free-arabicca4.jpg

    On Monday, November 2nd, 2009, Tunisian blogger and college Theatre professor, Fatma Riahi (34), known online as Arabicca, was summoned to appear before the Criminal Brigade of Gorjani (Tunis), where she was questioned about her online activities.

    Fatma was released the same day around 10 pm then summoned again the next day, on Tuesday November 3rd when three Security officers escorted her to her house in Monastir, located at 160 km from the capital (Tunis), to conduct a search for evidence that she may be hiding behind the pen-name of the famous Tunisian cartoonist blogger Blog de Z. They also confiscated her PC. On Wednesday, they escorted her again to her home in search for her passwords and managed to access her facebook account.

    Since then, Arabicca has not been released and has been denied to meet her lawyer, Miss Laila Ben Debba, who spoke to her only for few minutes. Arabicca is being detained in Gorjani Police Station and could face criminal libel charge that potentially carries a prison term to up to three years in prison.

    Fatma was blogging at Fatma Arabicca. A blog that she deleted three days before the arrest.

    A Free Arabicca campaign blog has been launched by fellow Tunisian bloggers in support for Fatma, as well as a facebook page.

     
  • sami ben gharbia 11:31 am on November 3, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Threatened-Voices   

    Introducing Threatened Voices 

    threatened-logo-1.gif.png

    Never before have so many people been threatened or imprisoned for what the words they write on the internet.

    As activists and ordinary citizens have increasingly made use of the internet to express their opinions and connect with others, many governments have also increased surveillance, filtering, legal actions and harassment. The harshest consequence for many has been the politically motivated arrest of bloggers and online writers for their online and/or offline activities, in some tragic cases even leading to death. Online journalists and bloggers now represent 45% of all media workers in prison worldwide.

    Today, Global Voices Advocacy is launching a new website called Threatened Voices to help track suppression of free speech online. It features a world map and an interactive timeline that help visualize the story of threats and arrests against bloggers worldwide, and it is a central platform to gather information from the most dedicated organisations and activists, including Committee to Protect Bloggers, The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Reporters without Borders, Human Rights Watch, CyberLaw Blog, Amnesty International, Committee to Protect Journalists, Global Voices Advocacy.

    threatened_voices.jpg

    What blogger, where?

    Finding accurate information about arrested and threatened bloggers and online writers is difficult for several reasons.

    First, the secrecy surrounding online censorship and repression makes it extra difficult to be accurate. Not a single week passes without stories of arrests of yet another online journalist or activist in countries like Egypt or Iran, but the details and reasons are often shrouded in mystery.

    Second, there is still some confusion about the definition of a “blogger”. Professional journalists are increasingly migrating to online media and blogs in pursuit of more freedom, blurring the old lines of definition. And many so-called cyber-dissidents in China, Tunisia, Vietnam, or Iran, do not have personal blogs. Other times, bloggers are arrested for their offline activity, rather than for what they have published online.

    This confusion has sometimes made it hard for online free speech advocates to come up with a good strategies and partnerships to defend bloggers and online activists, but it has never been more important to try.

    Let’s work together

    At Global Voices we engage a community of authors, editors, and translators, who help keep us all informed of free speech and human rights abuses. With Threatened Voices we aim to open the process of reporting up even further to any person who has information.

    We’re calling on those whose friends, relatives, colleagues, or compatriots, have been threatened to help create and update the profiles of those missing or under arrest, so we can seek additional sources, verify, and link to online campaigns dedicated to freeing them.

    In the process, we are hoping to learn more about when, where, and to what extent bloggers are being subjected to abuse in different countries, so we can share that information widely with journalists, researchers, and activists, and work towards creating an internet where everyone can exercise their right to speak freely, and where bloggers in prison are not forgotten.

    Help spread the word. Tweet, blog and update your facebook status about Threatened Voices!

     
  • sami ben gharbia 11:39 am on October 27, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ,   

    Tunisia: Prominent Activist Arrested For Environmental Video Report Published Online 

    Zouhaier_Makhlouf

    On October 20th, 2009, Zouhaïer Makhlouf, a Tunisia Human rights activist and correspondent of Assabil Online website has been arrested for publishing a video report online about the environmental pollution in Nabeul (Dar Chaabane El Fehri), a coastal town in northeastern Tunisia.

    According to reports released by several local human rights organizations, it seems that someone called Mourad Ladhib had brought a case against Mr Makhlouf accusing him of filming without permission.

    Mr Makhlouf in turn, has denied the charges against him and refused to sign the police report arguing hat the subject of his online video report was part of the activities of the Democratic Progressive Party – a legal party of which he is an active member- to ivestigate social, economic and environmental issues in the area of Nabeul, adding that he didn’t film any sensitive areas prohibited by the law and accusing the investigator of politicizing the case.

    Mr Makhlouf has since been transferred to Mornaguia Prison in the suburbs of Tunis where he began a hunger strike on October 21st to protest against his illegal detention. Mr Makhlouf will be tried on November 3rd, 2009, on defamation charges and could be sentenced to up to one year in prison, under the Tunisian Telecommunications Code.

    On October 26th, Tunisian Security services and plainclothes police surrounded the office of the Democratic Progressive Party in a bid to block a rally in support of the detained activist. Furthermore, and on the same day, State Security also surrounded the house of Mr Makhlouf preventing his friends from contacting Mr Makhlouf’s wife to persuade her to stop a hunger strike that she began on October 22nd in support for her husband.

    Despite the continuous threats and harassments that he is subjected to, Zouhaïer Makhlouf is one of the most active human rights activist both online and offline. He has published several human rights testimonies (video, audio and textual) which broke the silence on many sensitive issues and human rights abuses faced by tunisian activists and former political prisoners.

     
  • sami ben gharbia 12:41 pm on July 8, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Tunisia: Facebook user jailed for spreading rumors liable to disrupt public order 

    Written for Global Voices

    FacebookKhedija_Arfaoui.jpgOn Saturday, July 4, 2009, The 8th Criminal Chamber of the Court of First Instance in Tunis has condemned a retired professor, Dr Khedija Arfaoui, to eight months in prison for spreading rumors, on the social networking website Facebook, liable to disrupt public order.

    Dr Khedija Arfaoui, a feminist retired professor at the Manouba University in Tunis, was accused of spreading a message on Facebook about the rumor of 5 children being abducted from school in Tunisia. Recent rumors that children have been abducted and trafficked in Tunisia have been circulating for some months and have reached epidemic proportions with many parents concerned that their kids will be kidnapped, despite an official denial by Tunisia’s Minister of Interior during a press conference.

    The rumor has managed to spread throughout the country, especially on the Internet. On Facebook, a popular social networking website in Tunisia with an estimate of 623,000 users, videos and alerts of child abductions have been posted and shared with friends.

    Dr. Khedija Arfaoui is a Tunisian women’s rights activists and member of the Feminist Association of Tunisian Women for Research and Development and founder of the Association of Development and Protection of the Environment (ADPE)

    Some observers, such as blogger Mokhtar Yahyaoui, a former judge who was deprived of office because of his open letter to the Tunisian President condemning the lack of independence of the Tunisian judiciary, believe that the government needs to find a scapegoat for the rumor.

    Juriste Tunisie, a legal information blog edited by a team of Tunisian jurists who seek to promote communication and dissemination of information about the law of Tunisia, has followed the case in all its legal aspects, with emphasis on how Tunisian laws about defusing rumors over the Internet are vague.

    In an almost similar case, on March 15, 2005, Ramzi Bettibi was arrested and then sentenced to four years’ imprisonment for copying, onto a forum board he moderated, an online statement from a group threatening terror attacks if former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon attended the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunisia.

     
    • parishiromi 12:23 am on March 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Bonsoir. Je viens de vous envoyer un message sur le Twitter pour la chaîne nationale japonaise, NHK.
      La chaîne NHK souhaiterait vous interviewer sur le rôle des réseaux sociaux par rapport à la révolution qui a eu lieu en Tunisie. Pensez-vous que nous pourrons vous rencontrer ? Merci de me répondre à mon adresse mail. Bien cordialement / Hiromi Kimura

  • sami ben gharbia 4:50 pm on May 28, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Tunisia: First Woman to Get Six Years Prison For Her Online Activities 

    Written for Global Voices

    On Thursday 14 May 2009, the 5th Criminal Chamber of the Court of First Instance in Tunis convicted the 22-year old ICT Student, Mariam Zouaghi, who was in custody, on separate terrorist-related charges, and sentenced her to six years in prison.

    Mariam Zouaghi is the first Tunisian woman to be convicted under The Anti-Terrorism Act of 10 December 2003.

    Mariam has been arrested on July 26th, 2008, for visiting banned websites, publishing online articles on alleged extremist forum boards and collecting money to support Gaza.

    In a phone call with Global Voices Advocacy, defense lawyer, Samir Ben Amor, says Mariam maintained her innocence and denied accusations that she belonged to any terror groups. She also stressed that her case was related to her online activities and her support to the people of Gaza.

     
    • lamisa 1:56 pm on June 6, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Hi bro!

      ‘im looking for good tunisians blogs, with free talking, thinking,…

      please recommand me someones

      sorry for my bad english

      sami

    • mouniya barbouch 8:56 am on July 30, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Well Sami, I think Ezzine bou5chAm he’s a good bloger 4 U

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