Survey respondents, when asked about the actual incidence of problems related to online activity, reported a remarkably high level of incidents and attacks stemming from their online activities. One third of respondents reported personal threats. One fifth reported that one or more of their online accounts had been hacked. One in seven unwillingly had their online identify exposed. Nine percent of respondents had been arrested or detained.
In a survey of 98 bloggers from the Middle East and North Africa, researchers from Harvard’s Berkman Center explore issues of online security and perceptions of risk as the bloggers write about social and political issues in their respective countries.
The bloggers chosen for the survey were those that had been cited by Global Voices Online, an international news and citizen media aggregator. The survey was conducted in May 2011.
The report’s authors note a caveat in their findings:
The unusual sample populated by reform-minded bloggers and the timing of the survey — following a period of intense online activism and government attempts to quell this activity—contribute to these high figures. This makes it impossible to extrapolate to other populations and regions. Nevertheless, these reported figures are astounding from our perspective and highlight the vital importance of security concerns for online activists. As we anticipated, the respondents report a mix of cyber attacks and offline responses to their online activities.
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