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  • sami ben gharbia 1:52 pm on October 25, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Global Voices,   

    Advocacy 2.0 Guide: Cross-posting for Advocacy 


    Click on the image to download this guide as a pdf

    I’m pleased to announce that we have release the second Advocacy 2.0 Guide: Cross-posting for Advocacy, An Introduction to Effective Social Media Integration. This second guide by Global Voices Advocacy offers us a brief introduction to how to use cross-posting for online advocacy campaign. It reviews different web 2.0 tools, showcasing successful examples where cross-posting has been used for advocacy. The guide also includes the pros and cons of the cross-posting technique.

    Boost your online advocacy campaigning efforts

    A successful and effective online campaign engages a variety of strategies in order to, on the one hand, raise awareness and promote a message, and on the other hand, to maximize outreach and attract new supporters driving them to take action in favor of your cause.

    Thanks to the incredible widespread availability of all kinds of content on the Internet, you can now increase the reach of your online campaign by automatically and instantly cross-posting your blog or website entries on different Web 2.0 services, such as macro and micro blogging services (Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, etc.). It is another fantastic way to build communication and connect to your audience, and it can have far-reaching impact on your campaign, particularly by getting the attention of people who have never visited your website.

    The entries on your blog and website are not separate entities. They can now appear on countless web platforms simultaneously, grabbing the attention of new niche audiences and opening new channels of communication with groups beyond the circle of your most loyal supporters. Your blog or website may remain your primary medium of choice for content, but since only some readers will follow you on Twitter or are subscribed to your RSS feed, this broad dissemination approach, has the potential to engage more people in your cause and encourage them to share links, sign electronic petitions, send emails, and even make donations.

    There are multiple benefits to this approach. The first is that you drive more visitors, and thus eventual supporters, to your own blog campaign. Also, it has the effect of lengthening the lifetime of your blog and website entries by generating a cycle of sharing and promotion that can be easily picked up by search engines like Google.

    Please download the guide as a PDF file and help us translating the guide in your language.

    Table of Contents

    • Introduction
    • What do you need?
    • How to feed your blog or website to Twitter?
    • Update your Facebook Status via Twitter
    • FeedBlitz takes it a step further by automating email and IM delivery
    • Some arguments against the use of the cross-posting
    • A good example on how to use the cross-posting technique

    Please check out our other 2.0 guides for Advocacy

    Geo-bombing: YouTube + Google Earth

    GeobombingGeo-bombing is one of the techniques that can be employed to enable more effective dissemination of your YouTube videos campaign through Google mapping applications like Google Maps and Google Earth. Now you can watch your geotagged videos inside Google Earth and Google Maps. Any geo-tagged YouTube video will show up when the Youtube layer of Google Earth/Maps is turned on [read more…]

    • kapseinsece 10:55 am on April 24, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I’m the only one in this world. Can please someone join me in this life? Or maybe death…

    • cbfffe 3:19 pm on February 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Very good resource. Add to bookmarks

    • ASSORIESESS 11:24 pm on March 23, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      and that he wanted to tell the author?

    • pfmanulg5 10:23 am on March 29, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Salutations à tous,

      Pour commencer , donnez-moi la possibilité de vous montrer ma gratitude pour chacune des excellentes infos que j’ai retrouvées sur cet fantastique site.

      Je ne suis pas certaine d’être au meilleur endroit mais je n’en ai pas vu de meilleur.

      Je viens de Duncan, États-Unis. J’ai 27 ans et j’éduque 5 très gentils enfants qui sont tous âgés entre 9 et 16 ans (1 est adopté). J’aime beaucoup les animaux et je fais de mon mieux de leur donner les fournitures qui leur rendent l’existance plus heureuse .

      Je vous remercie d’avance pour toutes les très pertinentes discussions à venir et je vous remercie surtout de votre compassion pour mon français moins qu’idéal : ma langue maternelle est l’anglais et j’essaie d’apprendre mais c’est très difficile!

      A une autre fois


  • sami ben gharbia 2:13 pm on October 8, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Global Voices,   

    My interview on Global Voices 

    Below is the interview I had with Jillian York:

    This week’s Blogger of the Week is none other than Global Voices Advocacy Director Sami Ben Gharbia, known for his dedication to the fight against oppression and censorship. Sami is originally from Tunisia, but has been based in The Netherlands since 1998. He blogs at fikra فكرة.

    JY: Tell us about yourself.

    SBG: I started blogging in French, then, after few years, I decided to blog in Arabic and cover interesting stories that deal with digital activism and the use of new information technologies for social and political change. I speak 4.5 languages. The half is what remained from the Farsi that I’ve learned during the one and a half year that I’ve spent in Iran.

    I studied law at the University of Tunis but I didn’t complete my studies. I always hated Law and preferred to study Sociology. But in Tunisia, at that time, it does not matter what you choose to study, the government educational body is there to choose it for you!

    I work as a part-time Advocacy director for Global Voices and I’m also trying, together with my colleagues from nawaat.org, to evolve some of the Tunisian citizen media projects and digital activism initiatives to something more professional and sustainable.

    JY: You published the first Tunisian e-book (in French) about your exile from Tunisia – can you share a bit of that story with us?

    SBG: Well, when I arrived to The Netherlands after one year of travel following my flee from Tunisia, the first thing I did was write down the story of that trip, which was a very rich and intense experience.

    “Journey in a Hostile World” is the subtitle of the e-book. And I think that it gives an idea about how it is to travel the world with an Arab or African passport in a region where all kind of frontiers and mountains of obstacles are built to prevent a wide portion of this specific group from traveling and exercising their freedom of movement in a so called “global village”. In this travel, I realized how difficult, and even impossible, it is to travel from one North African or Arab country to another and how often you can get arrested and investigated only because you are a young Arab and thus have the “bad” passport. I was arrested twice, once in Libya where I spent five days in the security offices because my attempts to travel through the Sahara desert in the direction of Niger was deemed suspicious. The second time was in Damascus (Syria) where, after two days of investigation, I was asked to leave the country. The book tries to also analyze the political situation in the countries that I’ve visited (Tunisia, Libya, Niger, Chad, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran and the Netherlands) and follows the personages of the story through the use of fiction, theological analysis, political debate, prose and poetry. All the stories are linked by the wire of the journey that leads the personages through countries, cities, events and memories, that trace their relationship with the end of a century (XX) and the beginning of another (XXI).

    JY: How did you get involved with GVA? What inspired you to work on the project?

    SBG: After the article by Sameer Padania, GV former Video Hub editor, about the Tunisian Prison Map mashup, Haitham Sabbah, former GV Middle East Editor asked me to cover Tunisia for GV, which I did for a few months, before starting GV Advocacy.

    I personally was impressed by the role of GV after the support that our citizen online demonstration, Yezzi Fock Ben Ali, has gained, thanks to the coverage that has been given to it on GV. It was interesting to see that the Anglophone blogsphere was much more supportive toward our action than the francophone one, which we excepted to be much closer to us than the Anglophone one. The same trend has been observed after my Tunisian Prison Map. Those two cases were my very first impression of GV and they have demonstrated to me the place and the very particular identity that this amazing website is shaping within the media sphere.

    JY: Do you feel you’re achieving more for freedom of expression living outside of Tunisia than inside?

    Since I only started advocating when I lived in the Netherlands and not in Tunisia, I didn’t experience the problems I could have had in a similar situation in Tunisia.

    I must say that I didn’t really experience freedom of expression inside Tunisia and I think that after the short political openness during the eighties, Tunisians have lost a huge part of their freedom of expression and free access to information. Living and blogging from outside Tunisia has certainly helped me express myself freely, but the fact that my personal blog is blocked, as are all the other collective blogs that I’m co-running, always remind me of the harsh situation in which freedom of expression has declined year-by-year in my country.

    JY: You recently reported on the status of freedom of expression in Tunisia. What is your take on the matter?

    SBG: The Tunisian government has realized that censorship is not working the way it wanted it to. The flow of dissident information into Tunisia is a fact and censorship is simply not succeeding in stopping it. It’s true that only a small percentage of Tunisian Netizens have the technical skill and the will to figure out workarounds for the censorship, however, the rest of Tunisian Netizens still can access the same information on Facebook or via their RSS subscriptions and mailing-lists. The government is aware of this breach and it seems that it is updating its policy from a simple blocking of dissents websites and blogs to a much aggressive one that include hacking and deleting of websites and filtering of emails.

    By getting rid of outspoken websites and blogs (those who, thanks to the service of RSS, social networking websites and newsletters, are providing their readership in Tunisia with independent information) and by filtering emails (it seems that the Tunisian Internet police has recently implemented what seems to be a Deep Packet Inspection (DPI to filter targeted email addresses and content) the regime hopes to destabilize the two hubs that are providing Tunisia with political information and that the censorship couldn’t stop.

    The other new development is the response of the Tunisian Netizens in general, including bloggers and digital activists, to censorship. The recent ban on Facebook in Tunisia that lasted for two weeks has generated a very strong mobilization to protest the ban of Facebook itself, on the blogs and websites and as a result, access was restored after two weeks by a “personal intervention” from President Ben Ali, who ordered the lifting of the ban.

    Now, and for the first time in Tunisia, a Tunisian journalist and blogger, Zied El Heni, who is also a member of the executive board of the National Union of Tunisian Journalists, has taken legal action against the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI) over the ban on Facebook and the first hearing has been scheduled for November 4th.

    JY: We know you love technology – what new developments are you really passionate about?

    SBG: I’m very impressed by the new North African blogs aggregator, Berberus.com. It’s one of the most efficient tools that helps you follow, explore, and understand the North-African blogospheres and have a sense of the kind of conversations that are taking place in that region of the world. With graphs, tags, hot topics and a very advanced search into the content and comments of the Maghrebian (North African) blogspheres, Berberus.com offers a range of new functionalities that make the navigation of the aggregated blogs and authors a very interesting experience.

    JY: You recently attended your second Global Voices Summit. What did you learn from this year’s gathering? What new developments do you hope to see for GVO and GVA?

    SBG: During the Budapest Citizen Media Summit we have dedicated one day to debate the online free speech topic, from a variety of perspectives (technical, legal, social, political, etc.) by bringing together on-the-ground activists and bloggers, NGOs representatives, tools developers, free speech advocates and researchers. What I personally took from that meeting is that the battle against online censorship/filtering and the defense of free access to the tools that are giving the platforms for people to express themselves (like blogging services, photo and video-sharing websites, and social networking websites) is a global battle that needs to be fought globally by joining efforts of all actors in the online free speech movement. The building of a coordinated global anti-censorship network is one of the ideas that has strongly emerged from the Budapest debate.

    • 3alai 2:42 pm on October 8, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Bonjour Semi, j’ai lu ton livre il y a quelques années, et sincèrement, il m’a beaucoup marqué et il mérite d’être publié dans une maison d’édition classique, je l’espère.

    • Sami Ben Gharbia 3:07 pm on October 9, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      merci khouya Alaa. wallahi la première chose à laquelle j’y pense est de le traduire en arabe (il y a une proposition d’un ami egyptien) et de le publier, nchallah !

    • Yass 6:02 am on December 14, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Sallam, How can I get a copy of your e-book? sounds interesting!

    • Yass 6:11 am on December 14, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Oh…Nevermind, I got it: Borj Eroumi Xl…I will look at it later and give a feedback. Yala, good luck!

    • sami 1:41 pm on December 18, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      salut Yass et désolé pour ce retard de réponse, super que t’as trouvé le lien de Borj Erroumi XL


  • sami ben gharbia 2:25 pm on September 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Global Voices,   

    دليل تقنيات الدفاع للجيل الثاني للأنترنت 

    يسعى دليل “تقنيات الدفاع، الجيل الثاني للأنترنت” (تطبيقات في خدمة الدفاع الرقمي) إلى التعريف بأنجع التقنيات و التطبيقات التي يمكن استخدامها من قبل نشطاء الأنترنت – و غيرهم ممن يريد التعرف على هذا الميدان- كجزء من حملاتهم الدفاعية على الشبكة العنكبوتية. و على عكس دليل “دون من أجل قضية” الذي نشرناه منذ مدة و تمت ترجمته إلى العربية، و الذى عالج بالتفصيل تقنيات الإستعمال الناجع للمدونة كأداة للدفاع عن قضية عادلة، يسعى هذا الدليل إلى استكشاف الإستعمال الخلاق لتطبيقات الجيل الثاني للأنترنت.

    و يهدف الدليل إلى:

    • تصنيف تطبيقات الجيل الثاني للأنترنت التي يمكن توظيفها في إطار الحملات الدفاعية على الأنترنت.
    • توفير طرق استعمال تفصيلية و واضحة لكل من هذه التطبيقات.
    • تسليط الضوء على بعض التجارب العالمية الناجحة في مجال النشاط الألكتروني للجيل الثاني للأنترنت.
    • العمل على إلهام نشطاء الأنترنت على توظيف هذه التقنيات حسب الطرق التي تخدم أهدافهم أكثر و تلبي احتياجاتهم المحلية.

    فمن استخدام تقنية Geo-bombing و التي أعرّبها هنا ب”العّرض الجغرافي” إلى التدوين المتعدد الوسائط، و من تويتر إلى طرق مزج الخرائط و البيانات، سنقوم بسبر ميدان تقنيات الدفاع الرقمي للجيل الثاني للأنترنت آملين في أن يساعد هذه الدليل نشطاء الأنترنت على تنويع أساليب التعريف بقضيتهم و جلب تأييد مجموعات جديدة من المساندين.

    و يقدم موقع الدفاع عن الشبكة التابع لأصواة عالمية الدليل الأول من مجموعة “تقنيات الدفاع، الجيل الثاني للأنترنت” و الذي يركز على تقنية “العّرض الجغرافي”:

    “العّرض الجغرافي”: يوتيوب و غوغل أيرث

    هي من التقنيات التي يمكنك استخدامها قصد نشر أشرطة فيدو حملتك الرقمية على تطبيقات غوغل الخرائطية مثل “خرائط غوغل” و برنامج “غوغل إيرث“”.

    الآن يمكنك مشاهدة أشرطة فيديو يوتيوب التي تم تصنيفها جغرافيا على “خرائط غوغل” و برنامج “غوغل إيرث””.

    جميع ألفيديوهات المصنفة جغرافيا يمكن مشاهدتها على تطبيقات غوغل الخرائطية بعد تحريك ميزة يوتيوب

    هذا ما يجب عمله من أجل الإستفادة من هذه التقنية الفعالة:

    طريقة الإستعمال

    1-صنف أشرطتك على يوتيوب بشكل جغرافي

    خلال تنزيل أشرطتك على موقع يوتيوب، قم بتصنيفها جغرافيا عبر وضع موقعها على الخريطة من خلال إضافة آسم المدينة أو البلد على النحو التالي:

    Maplet 1

    Maplet 2

    بمجرد تسجيل المكان و تنزيل الفيديو على يوتيوب ستظهر هذه الأخيرة بشكل آلي على “غوغل إيرث”

    2- كيف تظهر أشرطة يوتيوب على “غوغل إيرث”:

    لتشغيل ميزة أشرطة يوتيوب يجب نقر طبقة “يوتيوب” الموجودة تحت لوحة الطبقات على الجانب العمودي الأيسر. و بمجرد نقر طبقة يوتيوب ستظهر على الخارطة أشرطة فيديو يوتوب التي وقع تصنيفها جغرافيا و يمكن مشاهدتها عبر النقر عليها.

    youtube layer

    مثال لتجربة ناجحة لتقنية “العّرض الجغرافي”

    لقد قام عدد من ناشطي المدونة الجماعية المحجوبة في تونس، نواة، بتطبيق هذه التقنية و محاصرة قصر الرئاسة التونسية بقرطاج بالعشرات من أشرطة الفيديو الحقوقية التي تظهر مأساة المساجين السايسيين و عائلاته. خلال تحليقك على برنامج “غوغل إيرث” يمكنك الآن مشاهدة نفس الأشرطة التي لا يمكن رؤيتها على موقعي تقاسم الأشرطة، يوتيوب و دايلي موشيون، المحجوبين في تونس.

  • sami ben gharbia 2:14 pm on September 25, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Global Voices,   

    Live blogging: Ethan Zuckerman in Picnic 08 -Amsterdam 

    Creativity & Interfaces

  • sami ben gharbia 5:03 pm on August 20, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Berberus, , , , Global Voices,   

    Silencing online speech in Tunisia 

    Here is my latest article about censorship In Tunisia for Global Voices Advocacy.

    Tunisia: More than just censorship

    Three more blogs have been blocked in Tunisia this week. These blogs, Mochagheb (Disturber), Ennaqed (The Critic) and Place Mohamed Ali have all been particularly active in providing news of the struggle of The Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), and especially about the latest social unrest in the southwestern phosphate mining region of Gafsa, where two people have been killed. One was shot dead by security forces and the other was electrocuted inside a local electric generator.

    I asked the Tunisian blogger Ennaqed about the censorship of his blog in Tunisia. He said:

    I think that the main reason of banning my blog is crossing the “red lines” that are constraining the media in Tunisia by talking about issues that are completely ignored by mainstream media. Last year, I was seriously engaged in covering the hunger strike of three Tunisian secondary school teachers who were expelled from their jobs for political reasons, and my blog was blocked temporarily. And like the rest of the Tunisian bloggers, I was blogging about the revolt in the mining region and recently about the prisoner swap between Israel and Hezbullah, and the remains of eight Tunisian men handed over by Israel. But, honestly, I think that the most direct reason for banning my blog might be my last blog post about the participation of an Israeli delegation in the 31st Congress of the International Geography Union (IGU) that is taking place in Tunisia. What I actually did is copy and re-post a press release about a group of Palestinian geographers who are boycotting the aforementioned conference because of Israeli participation.

    On June 21 the censorship passed beyond all reason and banned the first and only podcasting Tunisian blog Radyoun (Radio) run by a group of Tunisian bloggers dedicated to discussing social and cultural topics. Apparently, the podcast debate about the sporadic protests in the poor mining region of Gasfa and about the freedom of expression led to the banning of the blog.

    This is a non-comprehensive list of blocked blogs in Tunisia. Please keep in mind that the list does not include blocked websites:

    1. Citizen Zouari‬, blog of Tunisian journalist and former political prisoner, Abdallah Zouari.
    2. The Free Pen the blog of Tunisian journalist and former political prisoner, Slim Boukhdhir. In July 2007, this blog was also hacked and deleted.
    3. ‫Mokhtar Yahyaoui‬, blog of a former Tunisian judge who was dismissed after publishing an open letter to President Ben Ali criticising the lack of independence of the judiciary.
    4. Tunisia Watch, this blog is also run by Mokhtar Yahyaoui‬.
    5. Astrubal
    6. [fikra] blog of Tunisian activist and political refugee Sami Ben Gharbia.
    7. Nawaat, popular group blog about news, politics, cyber-activism and Islamic reform.
    8. Radyoun, the podcasting Tunisian blog.
    9. Moaz Jmai. (this blog has been blocked in Tunisia where I’m writing this post)
    10. Place Mohamed Ali (this blog has been blocked in Tunisia where I’m writing this post)
    11. Sofiane Chourabi.
    12. Nader.
    13. Free Race.
    14. Samsoum .
    15. Tunisian Citizen.
    16. For Gafsa.
    17. Mochagheb.
    18. Annaqued.
    19. Zabbaleh.
    20. Adam.
    21. Moumni.
    22. Free Word.

    Attacks on video-sharing websites

    Despite the fact that Tunisian authorities have permanently blocked access to both popular video-sharing websites Dailymotion and YouTube, on 3 September, 2007 and 2 November, 2007 respectively, Tunisian netizens have still managed to access these websites to either watch or share videos. And while the Tunisian government worked hard to ensure that the polished image of a “secular, modern and democratic” state would not be marred by any “negative” information disseminated by opponents on the web, Tunisian video activists and bloggers kept the spotlight on the Redeyef revolt exposing harsh repression and flooding both banned video-sharing websites Youtube and Dailymotion with footage of demonstrators, protesting against unemployment and nepotism, clashing with the police. And when the official media remained silent about the death of two demonstrators, videos of the victims, the wounded and the use of firearms against civilians, were smuggled out of Tunisia and posted on the video-sharing websites.

    The anti-censorship campaigns

    Interest in online censorship in Tunisia has never been higher since the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis in November 2005 when a hardcore group of Tunisian bloggers and activists supported by sympathizers, organized a successful online campaign around Yezzi Fock Ben Ali (Enough is enough, Ben Ali) a “Freedom of Expression in Mourning!” campaign, the entire field of the online battle for freedom of speech has changed. The transformation owes to the growing number of bloggers, video and Facebook activists who are walking down the path of digital activism that was gradually and patiently traced by the first pioneers of the Tunisian online free speech movement who brilliantly used web 2.0 tools (videos, mash-ups, photos, etc.) to protest the crackdown on online free speech.

    Badges of Tunisian online anticensorship campaigns

    There is a growing number of blog posts and comments talking and/or protesting censorship. According to the advanced search engine of the recently launched North African Blogs aggregator, Berberus (Beta), of the 274 blog posts containing the word “censure” (censorship), 165 are Tunisian.

    And of the 256 comments containing the same word, 98 were left on Tunisian blogs.

    Compared with other North African Internet users, Tunisian Netizens seem to be much more interested in censorship than their counterparts in Algeria and Morocco. This trend is confirmed by the following graphs, generated by Google Insights for Search:

    Back to April 2007. Following the ban on Dailymotion, Tunisian bloggers and activists from Nawaat.org launched the “Unblock Dailymotion campaign” in order to draw public attention to the aggressive online censorship policy adopted by the Tunisian regime. Cybversion.org blog was created to protest the ban of the Dailymotion and has since evolved into a group blog documenting censorship, anti-censorship and digital activism in Tunisia.

    Fifty-one Tunisian bloggers are now running a new anti-censorship blog campaign launched on June 20 that encourages the local blogsphere to republish posts from censored blogs as part of the campaign to sensitize the public to the issue of online free speech. The blog campaign has received a lot of media attention from the Arab world and has been featured on the official website of Al Jazeera and the Qatari “Al-Arab” newspaper.

    Badges and a headline widgets that use the free Feed2JS service displaying headlines of the anti-censorship blog campaign have been designed to build community around the blogs and help Tunisian bloggers stay updated about newly published content.

    July 1st, is now “I blog for freedom of expression” day which Tunisian bloggers celebrate by blogging about free speech and/or by displaying a badge. Meanwhile, from time to time, Tunisian bloggers carry out ad-hoc campaigns to protest the banning of specific blogs or websites like the Blank Post Day that has been organized twice: the first time on 25 December 2006 and the second on 25 December 2007.

    Tunisian netizens bid farewell to Facebook

    On the social networking websites, Facebook, several groups protesting online censorship in Tunisia have been created.The most important one has so far gathered more than 620 members. Other groups have been created requesting the ATI (The Tunisian Internet Agency, which oversees Web distribution in the country) not to block Facebeook, which, unfortunately, seems to be blocked since yesterday by at least two of the country’s largest ISPs (Globalnet and PlaNet), as reported by several Tunisian bloggers and Facebook groups who were faced yesterday with the famous Tunisian 404 block page that states that the requested Web site could not be found.

    It’s far more than just censorship

    Blocking web 2.0 websites (Youtube, Dailymotion, Facebook) and barring access to local outspoken websites and blogs is the most obvious way of cracking down of the online free speech in Tunisia. It should be emphasized, however, that this is only one tool in the regime’s hand. Tunisia has adapted to the web 2.0 revolution by developing a broader strategy composed of a wide range of instruments including:

    Punishing and persecuting outspoken online writers, bloggers and dissidents:

    Between 2001 and 2008 more than 12 people have been arrested and/or sentenced because of their online activities:

    1. The seven cyber dissidents known as the Youth of Zarzis;
    2. The cyber dissident Zouhair Yahyaoui;
    3. The forum administrator Ramzi Bettibi, known as the Tunisian “prisoner of the Net;
    4. The online writer and Human rights advocate Mohamed Abbou;
    5. The online Journalist and blogger Slim Boukhdhir;
    6. The journalist and blogger Mohamed Fourati;
    7. And while the last prisoner of opinion, blogger and Internet journalist Slim Boukhdhir, has been released from jail on 21 July, the Tunisian human rights NGO, Freedom and Equity, reported that a 22-year old ICT Student, Mariam Zouaghi, has been arrested, on July 26th, 2008, for visiting banned websites.

    Creating an atmosphere of fear:

    As is the case of China, creating a strong atmosphere of fear and a climate of intimidation has led Tunisian citizen to in general adopt a low profile vis-a-vis freedom of expression. During the last 7 years, most internet users and bloggers were censoring themselves by avoiding to raise their voices to address political topics or write freely bypassing the strict state censorship. Only a handful of activists, cyber dissidents and bloggers, usually the same men, are leading the free speech movement on the Internet, going well beyond these limits and even organizing an online anti-propaganda machine to the official one.

    Hacking of dissident websites and blogs:

    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.

    Moncef Marzouki, one of Tunisia’s most prominent human rights defenders (former President of the Tunisian League for Human Rights and leader of the banned opposition party Congrès Pour la République) openly accused the Tunisian regime of orchestrating and waging these destructive attacks against the opposition Web: “In a week my website was hacked four times (…) All of this, of course, happened simultaneously with the hacking of web based email accounts that the Tunisian police is carrying out against Human rights advocates and political opponents.

    Screenshots of hacked Tunisian websites

    What we have seen more recently is that the attack on collective blog Nawaat.org (deleting of the database and ftp files) happened simultaneously with the hacking of the personal blogs and email accounts of the activists running Nawaat. According to a press release issued on 16 June, 2008, Reporters Without Borders stated that:

    The Tunisian news and blog wesbite Nawaat (http://www.nawaat.org/) yesterday suffered its most serious hacker attack since its creation. Its database was erased and its home page was modified (see photo). Blogs by human rights activists Sami Ben Gharbia (http://www.kitab.nl/ ) and Astrubal (http://astrubal.nawaat.org/) were also affected. Their blogs continue to be inaccessible and their databases have been badly damaged. The websites have been restored although some dysfunction continues.

    This is a non comprehensive list of targeted blogs and websites:

  • The online protest Ben Ali Yezzi Fock! (November 7th, 2007) – the website was hacked and completely deleted.
  • Tunisnews (December 6th, 2007)
  • PDP Info (October 17th, 2007)
  • Nawaat (June 16th, 2008)
  • CPR, the website of the banned opposition party the Congress for the Republic (September 10th 2007)
  • Tunis Online (January 19th, 2008)
  • Moncef Marzouki personal website (June 9th 2008)
  • Astrubal‘s Blog (June 16th, 2008)
  • Sami Ben Gharbia Blog (June 16th, 2008)
  • Slim Boukhdhir Blog (July 6th, 2007) his blog got hacked and completely deleted.
  • Reveil Tunisien (December 21th, 2007) the website got hacked and completely deleted.
  • Liqaa (October 2nd, 2008)
  • Filtering emails:

    As reported earlier by Reporters Without Borders and some Tunisian NGOs, Tunisian human rights defenders are having trouble reading their emails on the three important web based mail clients: Yahoo, Gmail and Hotmail:

    Reporters Without Borders is also surprised by the problems Tunisian Internet users are having with their email. Messages sent to them by human rights organisations such as the International Association for Supporting Political Prisoners (AISPP), the Tunisnews website or Reporters Without Borders are illegible on arrival.

    Several sources said the messages can be seen in the inbox and can be opened, but often there is nothing inside. Once opened, they disappear from the inbox. “It looks like badly concealed filtering,” a specialist said.

    It is worth noting that the issue does not affect “fresh/new” webmail accounts and it only happens when you log in to these accounts from within Tunisia. I have personally run a test, from The Netherlands with Tunisian lawyer Abdel Wahab Maatar and Tunisian blogger, activist, and former political prisoner Abdallah Zouari. I logged into their email accounts and was able to read their emails normally. The content I saw displayed was not the same they were reading. Here are two screenshots of the test. The first is from The Netherlands where I’m base and the second from Tunisia:

    So it seems the email accounts of some Tunisian Internet users are being monitored by Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) without their knowledge. DPI is a technology that has the ability to monitor the online activity and filter the traffic on the network by removing “unwanted” material from the actual body of received emails.

    Recently, I asked Robert Guerra – a Toronto-base technologist who helps NGOs with data privacy, secure communications and information security about this. These are his comments:

    At first glance, seems that there’s some realtime interception of webmail and possibly other traffic is taking place. In a way, it looks like there’s a network neutrality issue… Perhaps Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) is being used. If indeed DPI is taking place, it might be worthwhile to raise it on the numerous DPI discussions that are taking place. The discussion in Canada is quite active, one where activists could use the Tunisian example to help their case. (…) it might be that existing accounts have been compromised in some way. Should ask if the accounts that are being affected were accessed at public (ie. net cafe) pc’s . if so, passwords might have been captured.

  • sami ben gharbia 2:54 am on August 18, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Global Voices   

    New template, new spirit! 

    I’m in the process of updating the design of the new template and I really hope you like it. Click on the links below to view my recent blog posts.

    Just thought I would let you guys know I can be found on Global Voices Advocacy, on Nawaat, twitter, flickr, youtube and facebook.

    I will attend a conference for Arab bloggers in Beirut during the next week, then I think I’ll head to South Africa for Highway Africa Conference 2008 and of course the Digital Citizen Indaba (DCI). So I’ll try to live blog as much as I can.

    After closing the comments, following the daily hacking attempts that are targeting my blog and few other dissidents Tunisian websites and blogs (read the RSF press release) I decided finally to reopen them; so cross your fingers for me!

    • elia 3:23 am on August 18, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Wow, really nice and clean new design. I love it! And I’ll be looking forward to reading about those conferences soon.

      Take care!

    • oso 4:00 pm on August 18, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Very clean, very easy to read. I like it. 🙂

    • Sami Ben Gharbia 5:10 pm on August 18, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      many thanks, Elia and David and welcome

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