— Words on a leaflet handed out in Cairo. David Kenner, Foreign Policy. Egypt’s Media War Is Almost as Nasty as the One in the Streets.
posts about or somewhat related to ‘mena’
We’ve mentioned it before and we’ll mention it again and again: the digital tools that help liberate are also used to repress, and are often put in the hands of authoritarian regimes by Western companies.
Via The Atlantic:
For all of the good this technology has done, activists are also beginning to understand the harm it can do. As Evgeny Morozov wrote in The Net Delusion, his book on the Internet’s darker sides, “Denying that greater information flows, combined with advanced technologies … can result in the overall strengthening of authoritarian regimes is a dangerous path to take, if only because it numbs us to potential regulatory interventions and the need to rein in our own Western corporate excesses.”
The communications devices activists use are not as safe as they might believe, and dozens of companies — many of them based in North America and Europe — are selling technology to authoritarian governments that can be used against democratic movements. Such tools can exploit security flaws in the activists’ technology, intercept a user’s communications, or even pinpoint their location. In many cases, this technology has led to the arrest, torture, and even death of individuals whose only “crime” was exercising their universal right to free speech. And, in most of these cases, the public knew nothing about it.
Recent investigations by the WallStreetJournal and BloombergNews have revealed just how expansively these technologies are already being used. Intelligence agencies throughout the Middle East can today scan, catalogue, and read virtually every email in their country. The technology even allows them to change emails while en route to their recipient, as Tunisian authorities sometimes did before the revolution.
Rami G. Khouri, Director, Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at American University in Beirut, gives Middle Eastern and North African news organizations advice on how to improve their relevancy in rapidly changing media and political environments. Arab Media: Rebuilding Trust With Their Public.
Sidenote: In 2003-2004 I worked for an English-language paper in Saudi Arabia. When I asked native Arabic speakers on staff why they preferred reporting in English they generally answered that English-language media was considered more trustworthy than the local Arab press. — Michael
Hossam al-Hamalawy, an Egyptian blogger at 3arabawy.
Memeburn reports that 200 bloggers from the Middle East and North Africa are gathering in Tunis to discuss the role online activism and social media has in political change.
According to event organiser and administrator of Tunisian site Nawaat, Malek Khadroui, the bloggers will focus on the role of cyberactivists in a period of political transition.
“It is an exceptional meeting. There have been three Arab revolutions and the majority of the invited bloggers have been involved in these revolutions, which will allow them to meet and develop solidarity networks,” he said.
We will reflect together on new challenges facing movements in countries like Syria, Bahrain, Yemen,” Khadraoui added, underlining the symbolism of holding the meeting in Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring.
One topic which the bloggers will focus on is their continuing role in political life. This is particularly relevant to seven of the Tunisian bloggers who are candidates in the upcoming constituent assembly elections.
…While social media undoubtedly shaped the unfolding of liberation struggles in the Middle East and North Africa, to say that these were Facebook or Twitter revolutions is misleading. The focus on technical aspects of the Arab Spring marginalizes and minimizes the role of traditional organizing and downplays the risks and commitments made by ordinary people who put themselves, embodied and in real time, on the line for freedom.
The most troubling aspect of the myopic focus on “Liberation Technology” is the suggestion that if you add internet, you can produce instant revolution.
— Virginia Eubanks, author, Digital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age. No Tech-fix for Justice.
— Iranian Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi commenting on political protests across the MENA region.