Reports are coming in that the Syrian government has shut down most (or at least large portions) of the internet after suffering months of protests from citizens.
Starting at 3:35 UTC today (6:35am local time), approximately two-thirds of all Syrian networks became unreachable from the global Internet. Over the course of roughly half an hour, the routes to 40 of 59 networks were withdrawn from the global routing table.
This image shows the current state (green: reachable, red: unreachable) of each network prefix in the Middle East this morning, visualized as aÂ packed Hilbert-curve representation. (Renesys Blog)
Apparently the Syrian regime hasn’t learned from the (now obsolete) dictatorship of Egypt, whose former leader tried a similar stunt only to end up hastening his own demise.
Syrians still might be able to access the digital web via the phone lines (which will be extremely slow), although those lucky enough to affordÂ satelliteÂ phones might be able to keep the world updated through various tweets.
Note: If anyone has any ideas on how those outside Syria can help feel free to let us know in the comment section below.
The ongoing riot in Tibet displays Chinaâ€™s Internet censorship prowess at its finest. Other countries pay attention and jot down notes. It turned out blocking YouTube and Google News is just an initial salvo.
BusinessWeek reports the Chinese government has banned journalists and tourist from entering Tibet to control the flow of information. To make matters really worse, there is a stricter measure implemented over the Internet.
All comments in different blog-hosting companies are filtered to be consistent with the news release from state-controlled media companies including China Central Television and Xinhua News Agency.
Even popular search engines like Baidu, Yahoo! China and MSN China are playing safe to avoid suffering the same fate as Google News. These leading sites only add news coming from state-owned media companies.
It goes to show how China is obsessively compulsive when it comes to suppressing freedom of speech and flow of information. However, it should not underestimate the power of the frustrated online mob for it has the power bypass all these controls.
China is doing what it does best in times of crisis â€“ block Internet access to control the flow of information. News and blogs report China has blocked Google News and YouTube to curb the distribution of video footages covering the violence happening in Tibet these days.
This trick is patterned after Myanmarâ€™s signature move of cutting off Internet access to control information gathered during the last protest against military activities staged by Burmese monks.
Several videos were uploaded at YouTube showing peaceful demonstrations and marching. But there is also a restricted video showing the actual riots and injured bodies during the demonstration in Tibet. Even though this brutal clip is restricted to 18 years old and above, it is the most viewed video with more than 80,000 hits to date.
Nothing is more annoying than shutting down Internet service. And when it comes to this subject, China and some countries in the Middle East are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
Now, NYT reports that the Iranian government plans to block Internet access during its Election Day on March 14, 2008. Though Iran is notorious for its Internet censorship, this is the biggest move it will ever take to curb the flow of online information.
However, the real reason is quite vague since the information from 2 Iranian news outlets that covered this matter is not consistent.
Daily newspaper Etemad Melli claims this will â€œdepend on security plans and on the Ministry of Telecommunicationsâ€ while ISN news agency has reported this move guarantees unhampered Internet service for the government.
As always, the biggest losers are the ordinary citizens who rely heavily on the Internet to gather information about politics and other matters.
A few weeks after China announced its plan to loosen up its control over the Internet, itâ€™s now back to its original mindset.
According to a news article, it has launched “Operation For Tomorrow,” a crackdown aimed against â€œunhealthyâ€ and â€œoverly violentâ€ online games that corrupt the juvenile minds.
Hoping control juvenile crimes and other illegal activities, Chinese authorities will raid Internet cafes and computer markets as well as censor Websites providing unregistered downloadable playing platforms or services.
According to Xinhua News Agency, the primary targets of Tomorrow are the out-of-school youths, runaways and children of prisoners.
Authorities believe that some unlicensed Internet cafes or â€œblack Web barsâ€ are responsible for promoting juvenile crimes and Internet addiction because many Chinese children will do anything just to get money to play these games.
Perhaps the Olympic fever or Lunar New Year has hypnotized Chinese authorities to relax a little about its censorship policies. Yesterday, the Great Firewall of China said it might go easy on BBC and other anti-communist sites.
Today, China backs off on its new online video policy limiting control of video-sharing services to state-owned and state-controlled entities. Now, private firms like YouTube could continue their operations in China.
According to a news article, it turned out even Chinaâ€™s own state-controlled media criticized this policy for it can hinder development in this fast growing sector.
Are these signs of China opening up to the Internet community? Ha! Fat chance. Maybe in my reincarnation all things will be different!
With 184 days left for the upcoming Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, Chinese authorities might go easy on Internet censorship. MIGHT. That’s short of saying donâ€™t push your luck, folks.
Still, it basically means thereâ€™s hope for banned sites such as BBC, human rights and anti-communist groups to set foot on this forbidden online community.
More than 20,000 journalists across the globe are expected to cover this major event. Knowing the Chinese government, there is always a vested interest for this sudden change of heart.
“We are studying this now based on suggestions of some journalists and a study of the experiences of other countries, so during the Olympics there may be some changes. This is one of the ways the Olympics may promote progress in China,” said head of media relations, Wang Hui in a news article.
See what I mean? But donâ€™t get me wrong. China says it might do that but they canâ€™t give any promise yet. Until itâ€™s not in black and white, donâ€™t get your hopes up.
Subjected to several terrorist attacks after supporting the U.S. against Iraq and Afghanistan, the UK government wants to curb terrorists materials scattered over the Internet.
Following the initiatives against online child pornography, the only possible way is filtering Internet content. However, British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith did not cite the specifics of this plan.
However, it is only in China that Internet policing is enforced. Other countries tried this approach but the idea did not fly for it violates free-speech laws.
According to a news report, Smith disclosed the government is working closely with the Internet industry regarding the implementation of this plan. Britain’s Internet Service Provider Association, on the contrary, is afraid this might bring more lawsuits to the providers.
in spite of these potential problems, you cannot help but appreciate the effort of Smith and her tenacity to push the envelope.
I have this funny feeling that the Chinese government wants to be known as the world capital of Internet censorship. Soon after the Australian government announced its intention to filter online contents, China has taken another major step much to the dismay of privacy groups.
This time, the government wants to limit broadcasting of Internet videos to state-controlled companies. Will this be the end of video-sharing sites such as YouTube and popular Chinese site, Tudou.com? According to a news article, the fate of these companies is not yet clear. Both companies did not respond about this inquiry yet.
As usual, the objective is to fight malicious video contents, protect the reputation of China, and prevent anyone from broadcasting videos about the countryâ€™s national secrets.
The policy dictates that only state-owned and state-controlled companies can apply for government permits to broadcast and upload video contents. The permit is renewable every 3 years. The problem is that majority of Internet video providers operating in China are private companies.
What could be next? Ban the music lyrics?
Perhaps the Australian government has not learned from the experience of China and some countries in the Middle East â€“ filtering Web sites leads to massive criticism.
According to a news article, the new government plans to filter the content from Internet service providers so it would be free from pornography, violence and other malicious contents.
However, the privacy groups fear this will lead to state censorship happening in China today. Moreover, they emphasized this effort is not only futile but out of the governmentâ€™s jurisdiction.
Australian Privacy Foundation chair Roger Clarke believes it is the responsibility of parents and guardians to protect children from such contents.
On the technical side, it can slow down the Internet service and can block pages that should not be blocked in the first place. Since most providers already offer free filters, they doubt the feasibility of this initiative to help solve these problems.