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Middle East Internet Scorecard 87

sturgeon writes "With the escalating violence and frequent reports of phone and Internet blockages across the Middle East and North Africa, it's getting hard to keep track of what is happening where. Arbor released a new report and graphic scorecard of Internet censorship in the region."
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Middle East Internet Scorecard

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  • by grub ( 11606 ) <> on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @03:00PM (#35282310) Homepage Journal

    Phew, that's a relief!
    At first I was thinking things were getting worse in the Middle East but then realized the graphs weren't written right to left.
    • At first I was thinking things were getting worse in the Middle East

      That remains to be seen; will the (somewhat) secular tyrants be replaced by (at least a little bit) secular democracies or fundamentalist tyrants?

      • by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @03:09PM (#35282440)

        And if they elect religious figures to parliament and establish a religious democracy?

        Tunisia and Egypt have had their revolutions, it's up to them to decide on the government they want, if they want fundamentalists representing them, thats their right.

        Same for the United States if the voters of a state elect a fundamentalist or an atheist.

        • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

          And if they elect religious figures to parliament and establish a religious democracy?

          What worries me, as an American, is what our response would be to a democratically elected Islamist government. Now, remember, Islamist does not neccessarily mean radical, al Qaeda type people in power. An Islamist government can still be moderate, but I'm worried that the American response to an Islamist party winning a democratic election would be knee-jerk and an overreaction, hurting our image and relationships in the region. Of course, we could also luck out and these states will elect a government

          • We were doing good in patching up ties to Iran right after the Revolution, till the Embassy crisis hit and both side stonewalled and got all conflicty. Then the Shah stayed in the US and we wouldn't send him back to an execution, the Soviets went all in to Afghanistan and that really balled things up.

            But that's not really a case of not trusting a fundamentalist government, that was strategic global politics in the Cold War.

            Turkey was like that in the past, now it's going more and more Islamist like Iran, it

            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              There are differing views on Turkey. As much as folks worry that the current government is going to turn it into some Islamist republic, at the same time, the current government is very keen to further its relationship with Europe, with the ultimate goal of entering the European Union. The leadership knows perfectly well that this is only possible as long as the secular nature of the Turkish state stays relatively intact.

              • In the long run Turkey will be OK.

                If the Islamists get too wild, I believe the Army will step up and toss them out (again).

              • by Sun ( 104778 )

                This is 180 degrees from what the local Israeli interpreters are saying (or rather, same motives, opposite action). The explanation I've heard was that Turkey has given up on being accepted into the EU, and therefor decided to become a major force in the Islamic middle east by going more extreme and more outspoken against Israel.

                In other words, the claim is that the political sight is dictating its Islamic move, rather than the other way around.


                • I think that's paranoia talking. There's little enough economic advantage in being a "big player" in the Islamic world right now. The money, the prosperity, the stability, they all come from Europe.

          • I can easily envision Turkish-style republics in Egypt and Tunisia, and in particular in Egypt where the Army is as well-respected as it is in Turkey.

            Libya, if Gadhafi does fall, is the odd man out here. It's military has been emasculated by Gadhafi, who has long preferred the use of secret police. I would be much more worried about instability in Libya leading to the accession of some other form of tyranny.

          • There is nothing indicating that the US would have a knee jerk reaction to any Islamist government. As you pointed out, Islamist does not necessarily mean radical, al Qaeda type people in power.

            Where the knee jerk reactions typically come from is where the Islamic government tends to favor terrorism or what we perceive as Terrorist actions. Take Palestine for instance, we withdrew financial support when they elected a terrorist organization turned political party to their government. But we didn't care at a

            • Clearly you haven't been watching enough Fox News as they reported the Muslim Brotherhood would definitely take over Egypt despite a complete lack of evidence supporting that. That is where the fear of knee-jerk reactions comes from. Fortunately I agree with your assessment and hope that we as a country can keep an open mind and remember that moderate people can be reasoned with while hard liners cannot.
              • No Fox News Needed. Either the Muslim brother hood takes over or not. Either they are peace loving people bent on some religious ideology, or the are the evil fanatics that think terrorist, killing people, and attacking our allies is right. Perhaps there is in-between, but it a matter of waiting to see what happens at this point.

                There will be people who will knee jerk, there will be people who will celebrate, there will be people who will cry. This is probably true no matter what kind of government is insta

              • Yea, I've not been watching much news of it. Some CNN from Cairo, but mostly have been following Al Jazeera English on the web and supplementing that with regional newspapers in English, like Haaretz and JPost.

        • The US elect an atheist?
          They'd elect a mouth-breathing moron, a black man, and a woman first.

          Well, 2/3 ain't bad.

          • Peter Stark Democrat from California's 13th District, openly atheist.

            • by treeves ( 963993 )

              ...and openly having no chance in hell of being elected president.

              • So what's your point. Most senators and representatives have no chance in hell of being president.

                In someone's 80 year lifetime, there will be about 20 presidential elections. That can be as little as 9-10 depending on when they were born and if they all serve 2 terms. There are 583 total members of congress not counting the "special members" like the representatives from DC or our territories. 100 of these politician will have the opportunity to be replaced every 6 years so there could possibly be 600 of t

                • by treeves ( 963993 )

                  Let's just say that many other Congresspersons have a higher subjective probability of being elected to POTUS than this particular one, due to his stated beliefs.

                  • Name one Representative who has any possibility of being elected President?

                    If Peter Stark ran for President as a Democrat I'd wager he has a better chance than the top Republican in the House, Ron Paul.

                    • If Peter Stark ran for President as a Democrat I'd wager he has a better chance than the top Republican in the House, Ron Paul.

                      The top Republican in the House of Representatives is John Boehner as he is the Speaker. The second most top Republican would be the majority leader, Eric Cantor. The third top most is Kevin McCarthy, the majority whip. Ron Paul is on a couple of committees but chairman of none. His highest position is chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy. This makes him a long, long, long way from being the top Republican.

                    • Its not about the position in the House leadership, its about name recognition and popular support.

                      Ron Paul has been running for President and gets a good share of supporters when he makes a run. Not enough to be a Tier 1 contender, but a strong Tier 2.

                      Example - Rep. Ron Paul raises $700000 in 24 hours

                      Cash on hand December 31, 2010 - $1,855,893

                      So now Ro

                  • I doubt that. People don't care much about the religion of our elected leaders except when it might indicate control from outside parties. That's why Kennedy spent a good bit of time claiming the Vatican would not influence any of his decisions before he was elected.

                    Take president Obama for instance. Most people know he went to a Islamic school as a child. It was the only one available where he was living at the time. Most people know he spent a lot of time in Islamic countries. He spent very little time ta

                    • He spent very little time talking about being a christian. When he did in his books, he left the image that it was a calculated political decision to declare himself a christian and even the church he attended which a lot of people don't think is christian outside of name, was calculated.

                      Mod parent up. Obama only invokes the label when it makes sense to do so, when people want to hear it. He's only gone to church half a dozen times since he's been in office, always at opportune times. I wouldn't be surprised if this pattern is common in elected officials and, from the recent trends in religious affiliation, the United States in general. People just call themselves Christians because it's still somewhat taboo to be anything else.

                    • IT may be common among elected officials, but I think the point I was trying to make is that it's unfounded as what is clearly illustrated by Obama.

                      I mean a good portion of America believed he was a Muslim or just didn't care what religion he claimed to be. That was about 6-7 years after 9/11 and we had all the fear mongering about Muslim extremists wanting to destroy America. If being the wrong religion, and being in a religion that is supposedly hating on the US wasn't enough to defeat him, then being an

              • by mjwx ( 966435 )

                Peter Stark Democrat from California's 13th District, openly atheist. --

                ..and openly having no chance in hell of being elected president.

                Coming from a nation who has elected a female atheist as our leader, I feel quite proud to fart in the general direction of your backwards society.

            • Thanks, I had no idea congresscritters had managed to break that particular barrier. :)

            • California.
          • by skids ( 119237 )

            Cheer up. They'd elect an atheist before they'd elect someone who openly admits to not caring about sports. So you have that at least.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I think the value of Democracy is highly overrated. Not that democracy isn't a good thing; but more important is the nation's respect for inviolate human rights and limited government power. I'd rather live under a king that had strong constitutional limits, than a democracy that had vague, shifting restrictions.

        • Same for the United States if the voters of a state elect a fundamentalist or an atheist.

          Hmm I think the US has democratically elected a couple of drunks and nutjobs before. As many countries have. Italy's got one for a while now. Yep, people have the right to democratically screw themselves royally, and it's nobody's busieness, if that was the people's choice, they have to deal with it.

        • by umghhh ( 965931 )
          To this I have one question: how much power one indihvidual sank in a ocean of US (or any other western) democracy actually has - I reckon not very much. You can scream as much as you want and even have reasonable arguments but still end up having to accept what they decided for you. The difference is of course that once in a while you can replace old asshole with a new one so damage per asshole is relatively small. This advantage proves to be diminishing with increasing number of assholes. Still that is th
          • One individual can have alot of power if they want to use it.

            Look at Martin Luther King Jr, Charles Lindberg, Father Flanagan, Father Coughlin, George Soros, hell even Glenn Beck had or have wide audiences or projected a ton of power with actions and words.

      • Not seeing much from the fundies on this yet--in fact, it seems like the whole thing is producing unrest against the Iranian regime along with all the others. Not impossible for a religious dictatorship to come out of nowhere in any of these places, though, I'll admit.

        • What would be nice are some alternatives that people can use to transport data long distances in such adverse conditions. Though I think it's been answered, it's basically ham radio, long distance dialups, satphones and little else.
      • Or fundamentalist democracies- for example, where only Muslim males can vote much like only propertied citizen males could vote in ancient Athens.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Or the United States in the 19th century?

      • That remains to be seen; will the (somewhat) secular tyrants be replaced by (at least a little bit) secular democracies or fundamentalist tyrants?

        Or perhaps corrupt, tax dodging, corporate capitalists like we have running the West.

  • the "score" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by khallow ( 566160 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @03:10PM (#35282452)
    Ugh, this just like the "convention wisdom" garbage that Newsweek used to do (maybe they still do, I don't know). Getting an up, down, or left/right arrow ("") is a pathetic way to assign a "score". And why does Algeria get a "" instead of an up arrow for maintaining its internet connection with the absence of any filtering?

    It's like having a murder index where you only get up arrows when you stop killing people. If you already don't kill people and never will kill them, you just keep getting "".
    • I should also point out that this only measures traffic, and attributes any decrease to "filtering." While that is possible, and probably true, I can't help but wonder how much of a decrease in traffic is due to people not being at home using the Internet and instead protesting out on the streets. I point out Bahrain as an example.
  • by WrongSizeGlass ( 838941 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @03:14PM (#35282514)
    Information wants to be free, but more importantly people want to be alive. Shooting peaceful protesters seems like a much worse offense than trying to shut down the intertubes.
    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *

      Actually, not to be too cynical about it, but if you're the press it's the ideal situation to have both an open internet and people getting killed. That means great images, which means great ratings. So, much as they would deny it, the press is often much less concerned about people getting killed than they are about not being able to received the images of those people getting killed.

    • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )

      Information wants to be free, but more importantly people want to be alive.

      No, people want to be free too. Watch a few protester videos on YouTube and it won't take long before you find folks telling the camera they'd rather die than go on being treated the way they have been treated. Perhaps they were exagerating, but I don't think so.

      • by umghhh ( 965931 )
        As a citizen of a country that broke free from a tyrant 20 years ago trough public unrest etc I can say that this is incorrect. People majority of them do not care about freedom of speech because in majority of cases they use speech to communicate with their peers about things that matter most: family, health, job, money etc. If you provide the majority the possibility to support the family and live in relative peace I can guarantee you that majority will not care about abstract freedoms like this as they c
  • by nimbius ( 983462 )
    an impartial American citizen grading and critiquing the openness and freedom of the internet in the middle east. The scorecard in america of course will not be published, as we call our censorship against wikileaks "patriotism." and our arrest and suppression of legitimate hackers "DMCA." and "intellectual property rights." our bandwidth throttling of torrents isnt a form of censorship at all either, but "Terms of Service." and the inability to make skype calls from an internet enabled cellphone? thats j
    • You say we have had censorship against wikileaks, and yet I can go there right now and have access to every part of their site.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The issue with Wikileaks notwithstanding, there is no absolute right to free speech. You do not have a right to walk into the proverbial crowded theater and cry Fire!. What Wikileaks has or does not have is not at issue, but their belief they can disclose anything to anyone regardless of who might get hurt or killed as a result. If all they have is information that is embarrassing, great let's see it. If it exposes personnel from various countries that if exposed could be killed? Well, sorry you don't get t

    • by fatphil ( 181876 )
      And did you see any evidence of "filters" being responsible for changes in traffic rather than just (a) noise in his figures; (b) maintenance work in the networks; and of course (c) equiptment failures?

      By his metrics, here in Estonia we suffered absolutely massive censorship this morning, for about 3 hours, as the largest ISP censorred their connection to the backbone by applying massive filtering to every packet.

      Thank goodness they removed those filters eventually, or I wouldn't be able to post this!
  • by ashidosan ( 1790808 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @03:47PM (#35282808)

    The green graphs are the traffic over the previous three weeks, yet turn yellow for single-day traffic anomalies somewhere in the previous three weeks? The X axis is labeled with only one set of dates.

    I guess we're supposed to look at these and go "yup, the problem is here, where this line appears to not be part of the same pattern as the others."

    This scorecard thing is terrible. I can only be thankful for the many paragraphs which state exactly the same thing, only clearer.

  • I have always considered the ramifications of the Internet where society comes in, how it effects the citizenry, how it effect economics, demographics and the like. With all of this unrest in the middle east I am reconsidering that topic. Repressive regimes seem to have a better time when the society is completely isolated from the rest of the world. With the pervasiveness of the Internet and global communications, the notion of isolation has become much harder to achieve. I wonder how new governments w
  • Boing boing posted a few stories today about different ISPs offering free dialup to people throughout the Middle East, as apparently international phone calls are not being limited at this time. Slow and expensive, but you should be able to access Twitter and Facebook. []

    and []

    • by jez9999 ( 618189 )

      Slow and expensive, but you should be able to access Twitter and Facebook.

      Ahmed is now: in hospital. Shot in street. Given 10% of living. :-(
      Gadaffi likes this.

  • What are we, chopped liver?

    • by BluBrick ( 1924 )

      Oh, don't be silly. "Middle Eastern Country" is merely the PC way of "Bunch of heathen Muslim swine' without coming off sounding like a bigoted idiot. Everyone knows that Israel is not really a "Middle Eastern Country", it's a little piece of USA that happens to be located in the Middle East.

  • Those graphs really didn't explain the situation very well. Maybe I'm just not focused, but most of them don't seem to show anything out of the ordinary to me... Only Libya and Egypt look abnormal.

    Plus nothing is labeled well. Looks like a monkey put these together.
    • by fatphil ( 181876 )
      Looks like a marketting department put these together.
      Or a governmental propaganda - sorry, information - department.

      Oh, that's what you already said that.
  • Here in the US, surveillance is privatized. The article [] won't load because we have "" blocked. Page load is stalled here:

    <script type="text/javascript">

    var _gaq = _gaq || [];
    _gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-20036650-1']);

    (function() {
    var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true;
    ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://ssl' : 'http://www') + '';
    var s = do

    • It's funny that the page-load is blocked. is even using the more recent "asynchronous" Google Analytics code that's *not* supposed to affect page loads when blocked/slow.


      • by Animats ( 122034 )

        It's funny that the page-load is blocked.

        I know. I have FlashBlock installed, and BlockSite installed but disabled. I'm not running AdBlock. However, I have cookies and images blocked from many sites. I'm not sure what's making it stall.

  • from wanting a internet kill switch and actually just pulling a plug or asking mobile operators to shut down their network.

    Probably even now if a presidents wants the internet shut down, he will just send a friendly suggestion followed by the insinuation that there are also more "tactical" ways to get what he wants.

  • I've been calling this "mediajihad," i.e. media struggle. It's been fascinating to watch.

  • Did anybody else read this as "Middle Earth" internet scorecard and hear a subtle "my precious" being hissed?
  • Either I have gone blind or Israel is not on it. Or was it censored by the Jewish State?

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