Tunisia is carrying out one of the most massive wave of online censorship targeting major social websites, video-sharing websites, blogs aggregators, blogs, facebook pages and profiles. The most recent victim of this wave is flickr, the popular and one of the best online photo-sharing website, blocked today, April 28th, 2010.
Last week, on April 22, 2010, Tunisia has added 3 more websites to its list of banned video-sharing websites in the country. Blip.tv, metacafe.com and vidoemo.com are not welcome aymore in the country.
In early April, 2010, On march, 19th, 2010, WAT.TV, another social networking and media-sharing website, which is believed to be the 3rd video broadcaster on the Internet in France, has also been blocked.
The targeting of video-sharing websites by Tunisian censors started on September 3rd, 2007, with the ban of Dailymotion, then it was the turn of Youtube to be banned from the country's Internet on November 2nd, 2007.
These video sharing websites are illegaly blocked in Tunisia (no judicial decision has ordered them). This is done by violating, inter alia, the article 8 of the Tunisian Constitution and article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
At least 11 more blogs censored on the same day
Yesterday, April 27, 2010, Tunisia has blocked access to at least 11 blogs because of their criticism against the government and its censorship policy:
And, on April 23, 2010, Tunisia blocked two online platforms of the opposition Ettajdid party (legal, former communist party) « les Amis d’Attariq » (Friends of Attariq) blog and the online weekly of the party Attariq al-Jadid (The New Way) are now blocked.
Hacking of dissident blogs
The website of the online campaign Yezzi Fock Ben Ali! (Enough is enough, Ben Ali!, which was blocked in Tunisia 18 hours after being launched in 2005) has been hacked again (first hack on November 7th, 2007), and it’s still down to this moment. As a security measure and in order to engage with the 1.4 million Tunisians users on Facebook, the campaign has moved to Facebook.
The same day (April 26, 2010) as the banning of critical blogs was carried out, another technique has been used to further muzzle the online free speech: the collective blog nawaat.org and the personal blog of one of its admin, Astrubal, have been hacked, deleting their database and ftp files.
As we noted in a previous post about online free speech in Tunisia, “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.”
And on another note, it seems that Opera Mini for iPhone, launched on 14 April, 2010, is blocked in Tunisia. This is probably due to a bug in the Opera browser or to a ban of its build-in proxy. Here is a screenshot taken from Tunisia.