Governments in the Middle East and north Africa routinely block and censor Web sites to control political discussions, according to a new report on the region by the OpenNet Initiative (ONI), a collaboration of researchers based in the United Kingdom and North America. They also track who is using the Web and what they are doing online.
The Berkman Center for Internet and Society's Helmi Noman, who compiled the report for ONI, says that governments have stepped up their filtering and monitoring activities in response to the increasing use of the Web as a tool for political dissent by activists. Targets of governments include social networking services, including Twitter, and the video-sharing site YouTube. The report examines the accessibility of about 2,000 different kinds of sites, as well as government eavesdropping tactics and the actions of local law enforcement.
Governments do not talk much about the technology used for filtering and monitoring. They have purchased filtering software from some Western companies, and have pressured Google and Yahoo to follow their restrictions. Also, foreign governments have used the technology of several online security specialists without their knowledge.
From New Scientist
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