Online freedom threatened in Syria by drafted law
Online freedom threatened in Syria by drafted law
Thursday, November 4,2010 22:28

 Syria known to have a tight grip on online media is preparing to vote on a controversial Internet law that has raised concerns. Online media in Syria already keeps a tight control of the Web and where access to at least 240 sites is blocked.

According to Journalists if in fact the law is approved it could seriously curtail the online media that has enjoyed greater freedom than print. Recent years have witnessed the emergence of news websites and the Internet has since become an important source of information given the state's close scrutiny of more traditional media. Sensitive subjects including the ban in Syrian universities of the niqab, or full-face veil, which received wide coverage on the Internet, are often absent from newspapers. So far there has been no law in Syria regulating the websites online activity.

Ayman Abdel Nour, director of the website all4syria.org, blocked since 2005 describes the law as very severe. The media would be overseen by the information ministry, which would make it harder to openly criticize the regime. He explained that the law allow police to enter editorial offices to arrest journalists and seize their computers and haul them into court His website publishes information  on an array of vulnerable subjects including issues concerning the  president, his family, the army and religion. The website however gets about 33,000 daily hits thanks to software that allows Syrians to get around censorship.

The government has targeted the websites of Syrian opposition parties like the Muslim Brotherhood, Kurdish minority groups, and human rights organizations in its efforts to intimidate online dissent. Other websites banned in Syria include Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.
 
Reporters without Borders have slammed online in Syria and Internet censorship in a July report, describing it as "one of the more repressive countries" net wise. It stressed authorities have harassed bloggers by the authorities since the end of 2008 after contributing online publications.

If the law is to be passed the media would be overseen by the information ministry, which would make it harder to openly criticize the regime.

http://www.ikhwanweb.com