Middle-East and African Governments Censoring Citizens Using Western Technologies

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on March 28, 2011

News release: “Today, the OpenNet Initiative, a partnership between the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs (Munk School) and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, announced the release of a new report titled West Censoring East: The Use of Western Technologies by Middle East Censors, 2010-2011 by Helmi Noman and Jillian C. York. The OpenNet Initiative has documented network filtering by national governments of the Internet in more than forty countries worldwide. National governments use network filtering as one of many methods to control the flow of online content, and utilize a variety of technical means to institute such filtering. The report analyzes the use of three American and Canadian-made tools: Websense, McAfee SmartFilter, and Netsweeper for the purpose of government-level filtering in the Middle East and North Africa. The investigation found that nine countries in the region utilize Western-made tools for the purpose of blocking social and political content, effectively blocking a total of over 20 million Internet users from accessing such websites. The authors analyze as well the increasing opacity of the usage of Western-made tools for filtering at the national level.”

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