المتابعون

الاثنين، 30 أبريل، 2012

THE SOCIAL MEDIA BATTLEGROUND IN THE GULF

On the one hand, it's deeply worrying that the government is seeking to create a surveillance culture that encompasses spying on all digital media.
On the other, that same government would struggle to arrange a children's party if provided with a clown, a bouncy castle, some children and an unlimited supply of jelly.
The satirist Daily Mash on new British online surveillance laws

Criticism of Gulf states' human rights records or military policies has proven to be dangerous for social media users in the UAE and Oman - where several bloggers have been detained. The same goes for the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority has arrested several reporters and bloggers who've criticized corruption in the government. Ironically, arrests such as these seem to be among the few tasks that Tel Aviv and Washington implicitly trust Ramallah with. 

In Iraq, a new law that has been proposed lock internet users away for life they were proven to have "compromis[ed] the independence of the state or its unity, integrity, safety, or any of its high economic, political,  social, military or security interests" or "implement programs or ideas which are disruptive to public order." Considering that around only 2.5% of the population has ready internet access, this law demonstrates just how unpleasant Iraqi bloggers - as both independent observers of daily life and fixers for foreign media in Iraq - have become to the government (defenders of the law will cry havoc over a Baathist apologist on WordPress to make their case). Reports from Iraqi citizens on decaying infrastructure, missed opportunities, officials' power trips and sectarian violence are not exactly civil society efforts conducive to cementing what to many Iraqis appears an oligarchy of parliamentarians and police generals. And to the west in Syria - where Western "retail" surveillance technology has been popping up from the U.S. and Germany - censorship is and has long been the norm, especially now that the demonstrations of 2011 have led to open war among the regime and anti-government militias. 

This is the other side of cyber-security, the more immediate one than all the industrial sabotage malware or avionics-compromising logic bombs. Censorship of dissent through cyberspace "has a broader meaning in non-democracies: For them, the worst-case scenario is not collapsing power plants, but collapsing political power.”

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