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  • sami ben gharbia 3:57 pm on August 18, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 404, , censorship, , , internet filtring,   

    Tunisie : la censure tunisienne nous révèle un précieux secret 

    Nous avons appris que la censure imposée illégalement à des centaines de blogs et de sites tunisiens et étrangers a été « levée » temporairement durant la mi-journée du lundi 16 Août, 2010. Et bien que les informations sur cette « levée » soient encore contradictoires – certains affirmaient qu’ils n’avaient pas accès à certains sites, pourtant accessibles à d’autres – il est encore tôt de trancher sur ce qui s’est vraiment passé au niveau de la machine de la censure en Tunisie, qui reste, rappelons-le, obscure, top-secrète et centralisée au plus haut niveau de l’Etat et n’est en aucun cas entre les mains des quelques fournisseurs tunisiens d’accès à Internet (FAI); même si, et par excès de zèle, ils ont la possibilité d’ajouter une couche supplémentaire de censure visant leur clientèle.

    Ainsi, nous avons appris que l’accès à flickr, le site de partage d’images (censuré le 22 Avril, 2010) ainsi que les sites de partage de vidéos, blip.tv et wat.tv (respectivement censurés le 22 et le 28 avril 2010), a été rétabli. Idem pour de nombreux sites d’actualité Français et Arabes. Très curieusement, durant ce même laps de temps, qui n’a duré que quelques heures, l’accès aux deux sites populaires de partage de vidéos, Dailymotion et Youtube (respectivement censurés le 3 Septembre, 2007 et le 2 November, 2007) n’a pas été débloqué. Chose qui soulève des questions – mais surtout apporte des éléments de réponse – sur la nature, ô combien discrète, de l’infrastructure de la censure en Tunisie.

    Durant ce laps de temps qui n’a duré que quelques heures, suscitant plein d’espoir parmi les usagers du Net tunisiens, beaucoup se sont posés la question à savoir pourquoi Youtube et Dailymotion sont restés inaccessibles alors que d’autres sites du web social, comme flickr, étaient consultables à partir de la Tunisie ? Pourquoi la page française relative à la biographie de Ben Ali sur Wikipédia était inaccessible alors que les sites des partis de l’opposition tunisienne, actuellement censurés, avaient été débloqués ? Pourquoi le blog collectif de nawaat était accessible alors que sa page sur twitter était portant bloquée ?

    Afin de comprendre ce qui s’est vraiment passé, et de là se prononcer s’il s’agit d’un changement de stratégie au niveau de l’organe de la censure; il est utile de clarifier d’abord les techniques de filtrage appliquées en Tunisie.

    On peut résumer la censure tunisienne à quatre procédés. Ces quatre techniques ont été adoptées par le censeur tunisien à des moment variés de l’histoire du Net tunisien, puis graduellement combinées pour former ainsi l’une des machines les plus répressives dans le monde de la censure en ligne.

    1. Le blocage sélectif par URL : tel par exemple le cas de Wikipedia. En effet, plutôt que de bloquer la totalité de l’encyclopédie online, on bloque sélectivement les pages les plus embêtantes. C’est ce qu’il en est de la page française relative à la biographie de Ben Ali ou de celle relative à la pratique de la censure en Tunisie. Idem pour le site Google vidéo. Si la majorité des vidéos demeurent accessibles, quelques-unes, en revanche, sont bloquées.
    2. Au deuxième cran, le censeur tunisien passe au blocage du site en bannissant le nom de domaine et le sous-domaine qui lui est rattaché. C’est le procédé le plus couramment mis en œuvre, notamment pour sanctionner les blogueurs Tunisiens émettant des opinions déplaisantes […] Ce qui d’ailleurs provoque parfois un jeu d’usure entre les blogueurs et la censure par l’entremise de la création successive de nouveaux sous-domaines neutralisés, de sitôt, par la police de l’internet.
    3. Filtrage du DNS et/ou de l’adresse IP : Avec le cran au dessus, c’est le blocage total de la DNS (DNS, système de noms de domaine) et/ou de l’adresse IP du site en question, quel que soit le sous-domaine utilisé, c’est le cas de youtube.com, dailymotion.com et de tant d’autres.
    4. Filtrage par mots-clefs : En dernier lieu, on pratique, pour les plus récalcitrants, le blocage radical par DNS et par mot clé contenu dans l’URL. Ainsi est-il de Tunisnews.net ou de Nawaat.org. Avec cette dernière procédure, toute URL contenant la chaîne de caractères « nawaat », et quel que soit le nom de domaine, est systématiquement bloquée. La technique du mot clé au sein de l’URL cherche ainsi à bloquer la moindre bribe d’information qui pourrait s’afficher sur l’écran du Tunisien. Le blocage par mot clé « nawaat » fait aboutir toute recherche sur Google sur une page 404. […] Par ailleurs, le mot-clé au niveau de l’URL bloque toute image en rapport avec nawaat, y compris lorsqu’elle est hébergée sur les serveurs de Google image. Cette procédure de filtrage engendre également le blocage de tous les autres supports du web social utilisés par nawaat, dès lors que l’URL contient la chaîne « nawaat ». Ainsi, « twitter.com/nawaat », « blip.tv/nawaat », « facebook.com/pages/wwwnawaatorg/186352466213 » ne risquent pas d’être vus en Tunisie. Pareillement, la chaîne de caractères «Tunisnews » produit les mêmes effets. A noter que le bocage par mot clé peut également contenir l’intégralité du domaine et sous-domaine bloqué.

    Ainsi, et afin de répondre aux questions soulevées ci-dessus, rappelons les faits suivants :

    1. La totalité des sites censurés par un filtrage des DNS, dont Flickr, ont été temporairement débloqués.
    2. Les deux sites de partage de vidéos, youtube et dailymotion, qui sont bloqués en Tunisie, et au niveau de leurs DNS et au niveau de leurs adresses IP, n’ont pas été débloqués durant cette « levée » de censure.
    3. La page de Ben Ali sur Wikipédia qui est censuré par un blocage sélectif d’URL n’a pas été débloquée.
    4. La page de Nawaat sur twitter qui est visée par filtrage par mots-clefs elle aussi n’était pas accessible durant la courte « levée » de la censure.

    Cet incident très révélateur de la brève « levée » de la censure, nous a offert, et pour la première fois, des indications extraordinaires sur la sophistication de l’infrastructure technique du filtrage en Tunisie. En ce sens, s’il s’était agi d’une opération de maintenance, ceci nous amène à relever qu’il existe au moins deux sous-infrastructures indépendantes, l’une dédiée au filtrage des DNS, et la seconde au filtrage des mots-clé au sein des URLs et au filtrage des IPs (et peut–être il y aurait une troisième couche spécialement dédiée aux numéros des adresses IP). De ce fait, si une couche de filtrage tombe en panne ou est neutralisée pour une quelconque raison, telle une maintenance ou une mise à jour du serveur, la seconde, et éventuellement la troisième, indépendantes qu’elles sont, continuent à fonctionner.

    Ainsi, nous sommes en mesure de conclure que ce récent incident de « levée » temporaire de la censure n’a affecté en fait qu’une seule couche de la machine de la censure en Tunisie, celle responsable du filtrage des DNS. C’est en tout cas ce qu’on a pu relever hier. Si on prend l’exemple de nawaat (l’un des rares sites tunisiens censuré et par DNS et par filtrage par mots-clefs ), on a constaté que le filtrage par DNS ne fonctionnait plus pendant ce laps de temps alors que, durant ce même laps de temps, le filtrage par mot-clé au sein de l’URL continuait à fonctionner toujours aussi efficacement. Par conséquent, et durant cette courte « levée » de la censure, nawaat.org était accessible sous son DNS alors que tous les URLs contenant la chaîne de caractères « nawaat » étaient bloqués (voir ci-dessous les copies d’écran du test qu’on a effectué à partir de la Tunisie) :

    censure tunisie ATI

    Maintenant, l’autre question qu’on peut se poser et qui est aussi importante est de savoir pourquoi la couche de filtrage par DNS a-t-elle cessé de fonctionner pendant quelques heures alors que l’autre ou les autres couche(s) continuai(en)t à censurer “normalement” tous les sites visés par un filtrage par adresse IP, par URL et par mots-clés ?

    Il est possible que notre censeur tunisien soit en train de perfectionner son contrôle sur l’infrastructure du réseau en vue d’un meilleur filtrage des sujets « sensibles », voire d’une analyse plus rigoureuse des paquets de données transitant entre le réseau tunisien et le réseau international. Une sophistication de l’infrastructure pourrait être très utile à un fichage et un contrôle plus policier des usagers du Net tunisien. Avec plus d’un million et demi de Tunisiens sur facebook, des centaines de blogs de plus en plus critiques, dont plus d’une centaine déjà censurés, et un stream assez politisé sur twitter et autres sites du web social, le régime tunisien n’a d’autre choix que d’accentuer son contrôle sur le réseau par le biais d’une sophistication à la chinoise de l’infrastructure de filtrage et de traçage. Toujours est-il, s’il y a eu une mise a jour de l’infrastructure, voire un autre cran de sophistication, n’hésitons pas tous à être vigilants et attentifs aux procédés utilisés.

    Il est aussi probable qu’il s’agissait d’une « simple » mise à jour du serveur; plutôt que de débloquer tout le trafic, le censeur a maintenu la ou les couche(s) du filtrage par URL, par mots-clefs et par adresse IP tout en débloquant l’autre couche, celle du filtrage par DNS. Une fois la mise à jour ou le changement de serveur effectué, tout est revenu à la « normale ».

    Autres extrapolations, selon le Forum de « Démocratie Syndicale et Politique », ceci pourrait expliquer cette levée provisoire de la censure :

    Il parait qu’une délégation internationale est en visite dans notre pays pour discuter de la liberté de la presse et de la véracité des accusations des activistes de la société civile sur la censure sur internet….nous nous attendons donc à ce que la levée de la censure soit temporaire juste le temps de leurrer la délégation ci-haut évoquée.

    C’est en effet possible, mais peu probable pour la raison suivante : en certaines circonstances, il est arrivé au censeur tunisien de débloquer certains sites pour justement leurrer l’opinion publique Internationale. Nous avons connu ça lors du SMSI et lors de certaines manifestations internationales en Tunisie. Mais à chaque fois, cela s’est limité à certain sites comme ceux des partis politiques actuellement censurés. Ainsi, cette levée provisoire n’a jamais été si systématique que celle que nous avons connue hier, mais toujours au cas par cas. En tout état de cause, durant ces parenthèse de “liberté”, jamais le blog de nawaat ou celui de Tunisnews n’ont échappé à la vilenie des filtres de la censure.

    Bien évidemment toutes ses hypothèses ne sont que des spéculations. Ce n’est qu’un effort de notre part d’essayer de mieux comprendre un des systèmes de répression les plus secret de la Tunisie et contribuer à démystifier ses procédés. Et évidemment, nous invitons toute personne ayant d’autres informations à les rendre publiques, et à fortiori, il est peut–être tant pour que d’anciens collaborateurs de ce système répressif révèlent enfin ce qui peut aider la Tunisie à ce débarrasser de ce mal.

    De toute façons ce n’est qu’une question de temps, tôt ou tard, des révélations de la part de ceux qui sont aujourd’hui impliqués dans cette censure auront lieu. Aussi, nous rappelons encore notre email nawaat [ @ ] gmail [ dot ] com. Notre site est toujours ouvert à tout collaborateur. Il va de soi que ces collaborateurs ont l’assurance absolue quant à la confidentialité de leur identité.

    Rédigé conjointement par Sami Ben Gharbia et Astrubal.

    Lire l’article en anglais : A First glimpse at the Internet Filtering in Tunisia et en Arabe آلة الحَجب في تونس تكشف أسرارا ثمينة.

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

    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.

     
  • sami ben gharbia 4:12 pm on July 26, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , censorship, , ,   

    Censorship in Tunisia, a nightmare! A video clip about the ban of Flickr in Tunisia. 

    This video mashup is about the ban of Flickr, the popular and one of the best online photo-sharing website, in Tunisia since April 28th, 2010. The clip is inspired by Anthony Hopkins’s film “Slipstream“, especially with the little flash cuts in the scenes. The burning of the ‘Mona Lisa’ scene is from Kurt Wimmer’s “Equilibrium” (2002).

    The Flickr images used in this clip are under Creative Commons:

     
  • sami ben gharbia 7:28 pm on June 16, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: censorship, , Hamas, ,   

    حوار صوتي مع المتحدث باسم وزارة الداخلية و الأمن الوطني في غزة حول حجب المواقع و الأمن الألكتروني 


    أنشر هنا أول حوار من سلسلة لقاءات سأقوم بها مع مسؤولين و مدونين و نشطاء المجتمع المدني في قطاع غزة. الحوار الأول و الصوتي الذي أنشره هنا كان مع المهندس إيهاب الغصين، المتحدث باسم وزارة الداخلية و الأمن الوطني في قطاع غزة حول مسألة حرية التعبير على الأنترنت تحت حكومة حماس و عن سياسة الحركة تجاه حجب المواقع و قضية الأمن الألكتروني و القرصنة.

    و قد أكد السيد إيهاب الغصين عدم توخي حكومة حماس لأي سياسة حجب تجاه المواقع أو المدونات المعارضة للحكومة في غزة مؤكدا أن الحجب لا يطال إلا المواقع الإباحية: “نحن لا نقوم بتكميم الأفواه”.
    و أشار أيضا أن حتى الحجب الذي تتعرض له المواقع الإباحية هو حجب إختياري بمعنى أن أي شخص يريد الوصول إلى هذه المواقع يمكنه الإتصال بمزود خدمة الأنترنت في غزة و طلب رفع الحجب عن تصفحه لمثل هذه المواقع.

    و قد أشار المهندس إيهاب الغصين إلى الدور الذي تلعبه إسرائيل على الفايسبوك من استبزاز موجه ضد المبحرين من قطاع غزة على موقع الشبكة الإجتماعية الشهير قصد إسقاطهم في فخ العمالة و الإخبار لصالح المخابرات الإسرائيلية و ذلك عبر استغلالهم لما ينشره الغزاويون هناك من مواد و معلومات شخصية لا تحلم إسرائيل بجمعها بالطرق الإستخبارانتية التقليدية. فمواقع مثل الفيسبوك سهلت، حسب رأي المهندس إيهاب الغصين، المهمة الإستعلاماتية للإحتلال الإسرائلي في تجنيديه و إسقاطه لعملاء جدد في الداخل الفلسطيني. و من هنا تأتي أهمية ما يطلق عليه ب “الحملة الوطنية لمواجهة التخابر” التي تهدف إلى تحسيس مستخدمي الشبكة الفلسطينين لمثل هذه اللأخطار.

    و تعرض أيضا السيد إيهاب الغصين إلى مشكلة القرصنة التي تتعرض لها مواقع حماس و حكومتها كقرصنة موقع وزارة الداخلية مؤخرا من قبل قراصنة إسرائيليين معتبرا أن القرصنة المضادة هي أحدى وسائل المقاومة المستحدثة، فالمقاومة كما قال ليست فقط أن تحمل سلاحا بل لها صور و وسائل مختلفة و منها هذا الأمر (أي القرصنة) داعيا في الوقت نفسه العرب و المتعاطفين مع القضية الفلسطينية ممن لديهم خبرات تقنية إلى القيام بعمليات مقاومة ألكترونية ضد الإحتلال من بلدانهم.

     
    • Hasan 9:19 pm on June 16, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      حوار جيد ومفيد يا صديقي

    • ibrahim arab 9:48 am on June 17, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      بإنتظار المزيد من الحوارات
      فكرة جميلة وتسلط الضوء على أمور نجهلها وتهمنا
      تحياتي

      • باسل خلف 11:48 pm on June 17, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        موفق وان شاء الله دوما نكون اصدقاء انا باسل خلف من غزة ولي مدونة متوقفة تألمت عندما توقفت ولكن اتمني ان نلقتي للمزيد من الثقافة والفكر

    • نور الخضري 7:17 pm on June 22, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      http://www.aljazeeratalk.net/node/6255
      لقاء الجزيرة توك مع المدرب الدولي سامي بن غربية

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

    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 2:27 am on February 13, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: censorship, , ,   

    من هم أكثر الباحثين عن البروكسي في المغرب العربي؟ 

    ليس من الغريب أن يكون المُبحر التونسي على الأنترنت من أكثر مستخدمي الشبكة بحثا عن البروكسي الذي يمكنه من كسر الحجب المفروض على عدد من المواقع العالمية الشهيرة، كموقعي تقاسم الفيديو يوتيوب و دالي موشن، و كل المواقع و المدونات التونسية و العريبة و العالمية ذات النبرة النقدية الصريحة بل حتى المعتدلة.

    فكما يوضحه هذا الرسم البياني من خدمة جوجل أين سايت، و هي خدمة تقوم بتوفير المعطيات البيانية حول الكلمات المستعملة في محرك بحث جوجل، (بحثت هنا عن كلمة بروكسي باللاتينية و العربية في بلدان المغرب العربي بين سنة 2004 و تاريخ اليوم – 13 فيفري 2010)، نرى كيف يفوق معدل البحث عن البروكسي عند التونسيين كل معدلات البلدان المغاربية. عراقة سياسة الحجب التونسية و عشوائيتها، مقارنة بجيرانها، هي المفسر الوحيد لتعطش المبحر التونسي للبروكسي قصد الإفلات من الرقابة.



    إضغظ على الصورة للتكبير


    و طبعا فالأعداد التي تبرزها أداة جوجل إينسايت ليس تِعدادا لكل عمليات البحث الفردية، بل هي معدلات وقع حسابها بطريقة تماثل النسبة المئوية حسب المنهجية التي يُطلق عليها جوجل ب Scale و Normalization.

    الملفت للإنتباه في الرسم الأول هو بروز ليبيا بعد الحجب الذي تعرض له موقع يوتيوب و عدد من المواقع الليبية السياسية و الإخبارية. إذ نلاحظ كيف صعد معدل بحث المُبحرين الليبيين عن البروكسي بل و تجاوز معدل بحث التونسيين مع بداية سنة 2010.

    الشيئ الثاني الملفت للإنتباه في الرسم الأول هو ذاك الإرتفاع المفاجئ للبحث عن البروكسي في تونس في أواخر شهر أوت من سنة 2008، و هو التاريخ الذي تزامن مع الحجب الوقتي لموقع الشبكة الإجتماعية فايسبوك. نفس الشيء مع موريتانيا إذ تزايد عدد الباحثين عن البرزكسي بعد حجب موقع تقدمي في شهر شهر مارس 2009.

    يمكنكم تحميل ملف بيانات بحث كلمة بروكسي باللغة اللاتينية و باللغة العربية من موقع جوجل تحت صيغة CSV.

    لمزيد من المعلومات حول الحجب في تونس هناك مدونة cybversion.org التابعة لموقع نواة و التي ترصد و تجمع البحوث و المقالات التي تنشر في الغرض. موقع أصوات عالمية أيضا يوفر الكثير من المعلومات عن الرقابة و عن ضحايا الأنترنت في تونس و غيرها من بلدان العالم.

     
  • sami ben gharbia 3:34 pm on April 3, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: censorship, , logging & Web   

    Interview with Robert Guerra about the Freedom on the Net Index 

    A new report on Internet freedom was launched by Freedom House, an organization which monitors freedom around the world.

    The “Freedom on the Net” study surveyed 15 countries on the basis of two key components: access to Web and mobile technology and the free flow of information through it. The report covered events that took place in the years 2007 and 2008, identifying new emerging threats to Internet freedom.

    The report also states that there is more Internet freedom than Press freedom, and that activists are becoming more creative in resisting governmentally imposed restrictions on the Internet.

    In his video interview with Global Voices Advocacy, Robert Guerra, Project Director for Freedom House’s Global Internet Freedom Program, talks about this new initiative and shares some of his thoughts about threats to freedom of online expression.

    /

    Washington – April 1, 2009 – A new study from Freedom House warns that the rights of internet and mobile phone users are increasingly at risk as governments, both repressive and democratic, expand their ability to monitor and control online activity.

    Freedom on the Net identifies wide disparities in internet freedom among the 15 countries studied and raises concern over trends such as the “outsourcing of censorship” to private companies and authoritarian governments’ use of undercover agents to manipulate online conversations. The report cites both repressive and democratic governments for internet surveillance and for failing to adequately inform users about censorship standards

    “More than a billion people look to the internet and mobile phones to provide a new freedom frontier, where they can exercise their right to freedom of expression without repercussion,” said Jennifer Windsor, Freedom House executive director. “But as access grows, more governments are employing diverse and sophisticated methods to monitor, censor and punish internet users.”

    Freedom House developed the pilot study to better understand emerging threats to internet freedom. Freedom on the Net evaluates each country based on barriers to access, limitations on content and violations of users’ rights. It captures not only government actions, but also indicates that citizens are resisting government attempts to restrict their online activity.

    Findings from the study, which covers events from 2007 to 2008, will be formally released Wednesday to a conference of more than a thousand bloggers in Berlin, Germany. Freedom House hopes to expand the study to examine internet freedom in all countries of the world.

    Cuba received the lowest score in the study because of the Castro regime’s near total control over internet access. Three other countries received a ranking of Not Free: China, Iran and Tunisia. The vast majority of the countries studied received a Partly Free ranking: Egypt, Georgia, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Russia and Turkey. Estonia tops the study as the country with the most internet freedom. Other countries ranked Free are: Brazil, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

    The study’s China report shows a particular paradox: a country with an estimated 300 million online users that also has the world’s most highly-developed censorship apparatus. China ties with Cuba for the country with the most curbs on users’ rights, including prosecutions for online activities, surveillance and extra-legal harassment of bloggers.

    “Freedom House is heartened by the fact that citizens, even in highly-repressive countries like China, Cuba and Iran, are pushing back with creativity and courage against these growing government controls over the internet,” said Windsor. “Democratic countries should not only support such voices, but also set an example of best practice with their own digital media policies.”

    General Trends

  • Growing Access, Threats: In six (40 percent) of the countries examined, internet use doubled between 2006 and 2008. Mobile phone penetration doubled in three (20 percent) of the countries. At the same time, six countries (40 percent) sentenced a blogger to prison and a third of the countries introduced new internet-restricting legislation. Methods to control and censor traditional media are seeping into the new media environment, but are not as common yet. In addition to imprisonment, torture, and intimidation of internet activists, governments also engage in online harassment by hacking or using technical means to shut down websites.
  • Censorship Proliferates: Eleven countries (73 percent) targeted political content in at least one instance, and general censorship and control was present in every country studied. Censorship techniques included technical filtering, manual content removal because of government directives, intimidation, judicial decisions and sophisticated manipulation of online conversations by undercover agents.
  • Outsourcing Censorship: More governments are requiring private actors such as internet service providers, blog hosting companies, cybercafé employees and mobile phone operators to censor and monitor users. This outsourcing affects both local and multinational companies.
  • More Internet Freedom than Press Freedom: For every country in the study—with the exception of the United Kingdom—their internet freedom score outperformed their score in Freedom House’s Freedom of the Press study, which principally examines broadcast and print media. These differences were most pronounced in the Partly Free countries such as Kenya, Russia and Malaysia.
  • Civic Activism Increases: Citizens are resisting government control by blogging, using code for sensitive keywords and organizing protests and advocacy groups through social networks like Facebook.
  • Key Country Findings

    • Cuba is one of the world’s most repressive environments for internet freedom, despite a slight relaxation of restrictions on computer and mobile phone sales in 2008. There is almost no access to internet applications other than e-mail and surveillance is extensive. Cuba is one of the few countries with laws and regulations explicitly restricting and outlawing certain online activities.
    • China is home to the largest population of users, but its rulers employ the world’s most sophisticated, multi-layered, and wide-ranging apparatus for repressing internet freedom. It has the most cyber dissidents behind bars, at least 49 as of mid-2008. In addition, cyber dissidents are sentenced to longer prison terms than elsewhere, and extra-legal forms of harassment and violence are on the rise. Authorities and private providers employ hundreds of thousands to monitor, censor, and manipulate online content.
    • Iran uses a complex system of nationwide content filtering, intimidation, detention and torture of bloggers, and restriction of broadband access to subvert freedom of expression online. Authorities detained and questioned more than a dozen bloggers in 2008 and a bill enabling the death penalty for online activities passed its first reading in parliament.
    • Russia does not engage in significant technical blocking or filtering, but authorities are increasingly removing content through behind-the-scenes pressure. Internet freedom is threatened by a rise in attacks and criminal cases targeting bloggers, while the government manipulates online discussion by funding its own propaganda websites.
    • Egypt does not engage in widespread censorship of the internet and the government has actively encouraged access to technology. But security services and their allies are known to monitor users and use low-tech methods of control such as intimidation, detention, imprisonment, and torture to silence online activists.
    • South Africa has a high level of digital media freedom, but a majority of citizens are unable to access the internet because of high costs and language barriers. Political content is not censored and bloggers are not prosecuted for online activities. Unlike other countries in the study, South Africa has more people accessing the internet on their mobile phones than from computers.
    • The United Kingdom has one of the world’s freest environments. But there are growing concerns about the widespread retention of user data by service providers and the permissive environment for “libel tourism” (in which the UK allows individuals, often from authoritarian countries, to sue authors whose work is available in the UK, including online versions). The procedures used by the private Internet Watch Foundation to remove harmful internet content lack transparency and the appeals process could be improved.

    Freedom House, an independent nongovernmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world, has been monitoring political rights and civil liberties worldwide since 1972.

    Freedom matters.

    Freedom House makes a difference.

    http://www.freedomhouse.org

     
  • sami ben gharbia 11:05 pm on December 16, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: censorship, , , , ,   

    Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Syria Prevent blogger and journalists from Attending Free Press Conference in Beirut 

    2008-12-14-arabbloggersseekfreedomabufadil.jpg

    From left: Sudanese blogger Kizzie Shawat, Egyptian blogger Nora Younis, Tunisian blogger Sami Ben Gharbia (Source: The Huffington Post)

    Written for Global Voices Advocacy

    One blogger, two journalists, and one online writer were prevented from traveling to Beirut, Lebanon, to attend the 3rd Arab Free Press Forum that took place on 12 and 13 December, 2008

    Saudi Arabia prevented the leading Saudi blogger, Fouad Al Farhan, from attending the event where he was scheduled to take part in a panel entitled “The Changing face of Arab blogging“.

    Tunisian human rights lawyer and online writer, Mohammed Abbou, was also stopped from boarding a flight, for the fifth time since his release from prison in July 2007.

    Tunisian journalist and editor of the online magazine Kalima Lotfi Hidouri, and Mazen Darwish, director of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, were also prevented from leaving their countries for Beirut.

    L. Hidouri was held by police overnight, before being released on the next day.

    In his opening remarks, Timothy Balding, World Association of Newspapers (WAN) CEO, has vigorously protested these incidents:

    we can at least thank the authorities of Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Syria for this eloquent and timely demonstration of their contempt for, and fear of, free expression, as we open this Forum

    In 2007, Fouad Al Farhan was arrested for unspecified “violation of non-security regulations.” He was released on April 26, 2008, after spending 137 days in detention in Jeddah.

    In 2005, human rights lawyer and onlineMohammed Abbou was arrested and sentenced to prison for three-and-a-half years for writing online articles criticizing the Tunisian penitentiary system, and comparing his country’s political prisoners with those held in Abu Ghraib. He was jailed for nearly 28 months, and released on 24 July, 2007.

    Here are the summaries of the presentations of the panel: The Changing face of Arab blogging (source: Arab Press Network):

    When Tunisian bloggers suspected that the presidential jet was being frequently used for personal business by friends and family of the president, they used airport records to track its travels and compared it to official government records. Only one of ten trips proved to be official. Using Google maps, the bloggers illustrated their findings by “following” the plane in a video that was posted on YouTube and could be viewed within Tunisia. This and many other testimonies of how bloggers distribute information in the Arab world were shared at the 3rd Arab Free Press Forum, taking place on 12 and 13 December in Beirut, Lebanon.

    The second session of the Forum focused on the changing face of Arab blogging. The three presenters are all living and writing from outside their countries.

    “Internet with ID”

    Mohammad Al-Abdallah, Blogger, I’m Leaving and I’m Not Coming Back

    Syria has imposed draconian restrictions on internet usage, requiring users to provide detailed identification and requiring internet cafes to keep records on the habits and site visits of all their users – and it blocks YouTube, Facebook, Wikipedia, Skype and other international sites.

    Despite these restrictions, internet usage in Syria – introduced only in 2000 — is growing, and is expected to reach 10 percent of the population by 2009.

    The number of Syrian bloggers is also growing, and they provide a vital service to the country, says Mr Al-Abdallah, who provided an evolution of the internet in Syria.

    “We have become a source of information for Syrian citizens, despite all the constraints and obstacles for even just being on the internet,” says Mr Al-Abdallah, who left Syria after being arrested twice and facing a third arrest (his father and brother and both in jail). “A small number of citizens are trying to circumvent the embargo. This if of great importance in a country where the government doesn’t allow people to meet and get together.”

    “I had no venue to express my opinion”

    Kizzie Shawat, Blogger, I Have No Tribe, I’m Sudanese, Sudan

    Kizzie Shawat is a pseudonym for a young college student who began blogging because “I had no venue to express my opinion.”

    Ms Shawat, who writes about female genital mutilation and other controversial topics, sees her role as providing a view of her country from a different perspective from official sources.

    Though censorship is strict in Sudan, the authorities have not been successful in blocking all opposition websites, says Ms Shawat, creating an opportunity for bloggers like herself.

    But she has another audience as well – the vast Sudanese diaspora – among whom she tries to encourage unity in a divided country. “Our national identity is important and I try to emphasize this in my blog,” she says.

    “It is an important forum for social activism,” she says. “You have to allow people to express themselves and we’re not used to doing that.”

    Beating the censors

    Sami Ben Gharbia, Blogger, Fikra, and Global Voices Advocacy Director, Tunisia

    Tunisia has what may be the world’s most sophisticated internet blocking apparatus – it not only block websites, it pirates them and adds false and misleading information. But that doesn’t stop Tunisian bloggers for finding and using innovative ways around the system, and providing compelling multimedia reports to provide a counterpoint to official propaganda.

    When official media “reported” that the Italian region of Tuscany had named a major highway after Tunisian Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, bloggers photographed the new street, showing it was an insignificant rural road leading to nowhere.

    Suspecting that the presidential jet was being frequently used for personal business by friends and family of the president, bloggers used airport records to track its travels and compared it to official government records. Only one of ten trips proved to be official. Using Google maps, the bloggers illustrated their findings by “following” the plane in a video that was posted on YouTube and could be viewed within Tunisia.

    Bloggers have also found interesting ways of beating the censors, such as buying Google Ads keywords so their information pops up whenever someone searches for certain words.

    Mr Gharbia’s presentation focused on the methods Tunisian authorities use to block independent information – including “deep inspection” of e-mails – and how freedom of expression advocates try to get around them.

     
    • Elfatih 7:20 am on December 31, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      sorry for the way i will start this comment but if you really stand by freedom of speech and openness please tell us why they prevented you from publshing or announcing what ever it is that you want to announce and also clearify why is it so that you are a target for hackers, and thank you.

      visit my blog along with my name.

    • Random_Moods 11:17 pm on January 2, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I guess you still didn’t get the green light from the NGO’s to blog about the humanitarian disaster in Gaza, right?

      It sounds like biting the hands that offered those few trips trips to the web 3.x activist conferences… That was disappointingly predictable. Good luck with your career!

    • yaseen 11:45 pm on January 19, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      we hope freedom from all access to global media

  • sami ben gharbia 2:54 pm on November 27, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: censorship, , ,   

    The Internet and the Struggle for Voice in Repressive Regime Contexts 

    (Copenhagen 10-11 November 2008) I attended a Research seminar on Digital Media in Repressive RegimesPublic sphere, civic engagement and political mobilization (.Pdf) hosted by The Danish Institute for Human Rights.

    This is a video of a talk given by Mariam Memarsadeghi about the Internet and the Struggle for Voice in Repressive Regime Contexts. Miriam is a consultant to human rights and democracy organizations internationally and an outspoken advocate for women’s rights and civil liberties in Islamic contexts.

     
    • sara 3:26 pm on November 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for sharing this video Sami!

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