Home Bahrain Arrests Blogger, Forced Labor for Blogging in Jordan: This Week in Online Tyranny

Bahrain Arrests Blogger, Forced Labor for Blogging in Jordan: This Week in Online Tyranny

Bahrain arrests blogger. Abd El Galil AlSingace was arrested upon returning from London, where he had spoken about human rights in Bahrain to the House of Lords. AlSingace is the chairman of the human rights commission of the Haq democracy movement. He was arrested, of course, for “disseminating false news about internal affairs in Bahrain and defaming judiciary and executive authorities.” He complained about the use of torture in Bahrain, and discrimination against guest workers from the Indian sub-continent.

AlSingace’s Lords address resulted in a public rant by Bahrain’s king. When the blogger arrived at the airport, he was arrested and his family and friends were dispersed with tear gas and rubber bullets. He had been arrested before, in 2008.

Jordan implements new online law to limit free speech. Jordan’s government has decreed a new law to limit “chaos” online. The law if focused on news and information websites, but that frame can be expanded at will to include anything, including a blog. If you run afoul of this law you could get a fine or get sent to a forced labor camp.

Jordan has a reputation as a “liberal” Middle Eastern state. I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean, but if you think it includes free speech, ask Imad Al-Ash. Oh, wait. You can’t. He’s in prison for two years for bad-mouthing the king on IM.

This law was clearly design to be all-encompassing, malleable (for prosecuting agents) and vague enough to snare anyone. No doubt the hoped-for result is that anyone online starts second-guessing themselves enough that they post less and more innocuous materials.

Hamed Saber has been released. Saber, an Iranian photoblogger, was arrested in July. No reason was given. He was released earlier this month. No reason was given for that either. Iran has frequently arrested, released and rearrested people as a form of psychological torture.

India joins Blackberry banners. India has joined Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in demanding the device’s makers, Research in Motion, turn over encryption keys so its security forces can spy on users. India has given RIM a deadline of August 31. Rumors circulated that the company and the country had reached accommodation, though that appears to be premature. The company has said it would not make deals with governments, but it has. It’s blocking 3,000 porn sites in Kuwait. Allegedly. Given the problems with blocking software, who knows what they’re accidentally blocking. And once you get a foot in the door, it becomes much easier to get a shoulder in. Perhaps Kuwait will insist it block political subversives next.

U.S. court orders anonymous commenters outed. Stanton Wettick, a judge in Pennsylvania, ordered a website editor to turn over the IP addresses of six commenters. They had all criticized a local politician, who then sued to get their identities, claiming they had “defamed” him. A 1996 U.S. telecommunications law protects anonymous commenters. But some local judges, like Wettick, apparently believe the law does not apply to them.

Guide to mirroring blocked WordPress blogs issued in Arabic. If you have a censored WP blog, Global Voices has written a guide on how to create an uncensored mirror site for that blog. Now, it has translated the guide into Arabic.

South Africa proposes press restriction law. The “Protection of Information Bill” now being considered by the South African parliament would allow pretty much any government official, from federal down to local, to label any piece of information an official secret. Any information so labeled would be off limits to journalists and anyone else outside the government. The RSA government is also proposing a “Media Appeals Tribunal” that would act as a kind of anti-press hit squad. These are ridiculous ideas that would damage the South African press and its vibrant blogging community.

Jordan flag photo by Ali Alhasani | South African flag photo by Warrenski

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