Home iPhone Gets Banned in Syria as Government Cracks Down on Tech-Savvy Protesters

iPhone Gets Banned in Syria as Government Cracks Down on Tech-Savvy Protesters

Let’s say you’re a Middle Eastern dictator with an atrocious human rights record and repressive domestic policies. Currently, many of your constituents are in the streets, loudly decrying your government calling for you to step down, if not for your execution. In many ways, the situation doesn’t look that different than it did in other countries in the region just before their leaders were overthrown.

Despite a violent crackdown on the protests, the rabble rousers just won’t quit, and they’re using their smartphones to keep in touch and get around your stringent controls on freedom of the press. What ever do you do?

For starters, you could ban the iPhone. That’s exactly what the regime of Bashar al-Assad did today in Syria, in an effort to disrupt growing anti-government protests going on there. The Customs Department of the Syrian Finance Ministry issued a statement saying that “the authorities warn against anyone using the iPhone in Syria,” according to activists on the ground.

Why the iPhone? It’s not the only mobile device being used by Syrian protestors, but it’s a significant one. Activists have been using at least one iPhone-specific app to disseminate information about the uprising and spread sometimes gory photos illustrating the government’s violent response.

Technology Poses a Threat to Dictators, But This is Silly

Syria’s government knows all too well how dangerous mobile technology and the Web can be to its existence. While these revolutions are spurred by real-life, on-the-ground circumstances and grievances, increasingly technology is providing some grease for the wheels.

With this move, we can’t help but be reminded of the time the Egyptian government shut off Internet access in the country amidst the uprising there earlier this year. Of course, not two weeks later, Hosni Mubarak resigned.

In this case, the crackdown seems even more short-sighted, even putting aside the absurdity of logistically trying to enforce such a law. If you ban iPhones, people can still use a wide range of other devices to stay in touch and connect to the Web. If Internet access goes away, people can still use SMS as an organizing tool. Of course, in a country like Syria, shutting down mobile service all together is not a difficult task.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.