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dmcdev : saudiarabia   20

Middle East governments clamp down on coronavirus coverage
RSF tracks coronavirus-related censorship and press restrictions in countries including Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Israel: "Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is concerned to see Middle Eastern governments taking advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to step up state censorship and to reaffirm their monopoly of the dissemination of news and information. Ever since the start of the pandemic, many journalists in the Middle East have expressed doubts about the official figures for coronavirus cases in their countries and have criticized the lack of governmental transparency." - RSF

+ CPJ: Egypt expels Guardian reporter Ruth Michaelson over COVID-19 coverage

+ CPJ: Thailand declares state of emergency, imposes press restrictions

+ CPJ: South Africa enacts regulations criminalizing ‘disinformation’ on coronavirus outbreak
otf  coronavirus  censorship  press  media  mena  egypt  syria  saudi  saudiarabia  jordan  israel  thailand 
4 days ago by dmcdev
In Yemen, the internet is a key front in the conflict
"Perched on a remote mountain ridge in Yemen’s southwestern Ibb province, a cluster of white dishes bolted to pipes and tree branches beams wireless internet to thousands of people in the area. Parts of rural Ibb have no fixed telephone lines and limited mobile coverage. In an effort to deliver digital connectivity to his people, Nabil al-Mansouri launched a do-it-yourself wireless business, known as a community network, three years ago. Sort of like the once-ubiquitous internet cafe, community networks purchase bandwidth from Yemen’s state-owned internet service provider, YemenNet. It is then resold to members of the public. But rather than renting out a seat at an old PC in a smoke-filled room, community networks provide direct wireless internet access to customers in cities, suburbs and villages that would otherwise remain unconnected.

But last September, YemenNet surprised Mansouri and thousands of other community network operators with steep price hikes and data limits: One popular package, which used to cost $115 for 450 GB, now costs either $160 for 400 GB or $105 for 200 GB. A month later, the Iran-backed Zaidi Shiite Houthi government in Sanaa announced that it would no longer issue business permits to the community networks. Overnight, operations like Mansouri’s became illegal. By December, Houthi authorities had dispatched armed men to confiscate equipment from wireless providers and issue cease and desist letters at community network offices. 'It’s a disaster that has befallen us,' said Mansouri. 'I was shocked.' " - Casey Coombs, Coda Story
otf  yemen  mena  access  conflict  iran  Saudi  saudiarabia 
18 days ago by dmcdev
How Saudi Arabia Infiltrated Twitter
"[Ali] Alzabarah and Ahmad Abouammo, a colleague on Twitter’s global media team, regularly accessed and delivered information that could’ve led Saudi intelligence to identify anonymous dissidents. While news of the allegations against them has been public since November 2019, the extent of their roles and abilities inside the company have never previously been reported. Alzabarah, Abouammo, and al-Asaker did not respond to requests for comment. Though Azabarah fled, he and Abouammo, who remained in the US, are currently indicted in United States federal court on charges of acting as undeclared agents of the Saudi government. No matter the verdict, the case has exposed tech companies’ vulnerability to attempted foreign infiltration. One well-placed employee can potentially do extensive damage." - Alex Kantrowitz, BuzzFeed News
otf  saudi  saudiarabia  mena  twitter  social  surveillance  awareness  security 
5 weeks ago by dmcdev
Stopping the Press: New York Times Journalist Targeted by Saudi-linked Pegasus Spyware Operator
New Citizen Lab research reveals how New York Times Beirut Bureau Chief Ben Hubbard "was targeted with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware via a June 2018 SMS message promising details about 'Ben Hubbard and the story of the Saudi Royal Family.' The SMS contained a hyperlink to a website used by a Pegasus operator that we call KINGDOM. We have linked KINGDOM to Saudi Arabia. In 2018, KINGDOM also targeted Saudi dissidents including Omar Abdulaziz, Ghanem al-Masarir1, and Yahya Assiri, as well as a staff member at Amnesty International. Hubbard is among a growing group of journalists targeted with Pegasus spyware."

+ In Hubbard's own words: "On June 21, 2018, I received an Arabic text message on my cellphone that read: 'Ben Hubbard and the story of the Saudi royal family,' with a link for a website, I had been writing extensively about Saudi Arabia, including its royal family, and at first glance the link appeared to be a Saudi news story about my coverage — a subject that would normally grab my attention. But it also struck me as fishy, so I refrained from clicking and decided to investigate. That led me to the booming market among governments for hacking technologies and a lesson in how easily the most intimate information on our phones — chats, contacts, passwords and photos — could become a target." via New York Times: Someone Tried to Hack My Phone. Technology Researchers Accused Saudi Arabia.
otf  saudi  saudiarabia  pegasus  nsogroup  spyware  surveillance  mena  meda  journalism 
8 weeks ago by dmcdev
Reckless VI: Mexican Journalists Investigating Cartels Targeted with NSO Spyware Following Assassination of Colleague - @CitizenLab
A new report released today by Citizen Lab "details how colleagues of a slain Mexican journalist investigating cartels were targeted with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware in the days after his killing," finding that "Two days after the killing [of Río Doce journalist Javier Valdez Cárdenas], Río Doce’s director and a colleague began receiving infection attempts with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware. Several of the infection attempts purported to provide information about the Cárdenas killing...The Mexican government-linked NSO Group customer had already been publicly exposed for abusing Pegasus months before, suggesting that NSO Group failed to take effective action to prevent the continuing abuse."

+ NSO Group also provided surveillance technology to Saudi Arabia, which purchased iPhone malware for a price of $55 million USD from the Israeli firm, according to a recent Haaretz report:
otf  mexico  nsogroup  surveillance  malware  saudiarabia  pegasus  citizenlab 
november 2018 by dmcdev
Online censorship in Saudi Arabia soared after Jamal Khashoggi’s murder: @CensoredPlanet
"The number of websites being censored in Saudi Arabia doubled a couple of weeks after Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the country’s consulate in Istanbul, according to an initiative that tracks internet censorship. While the increased censorship is not surprising, the results show how skillful automated tracking has become at sniffing out repression. Roya Ensafi, who leads the Censored Planet project, says it detected the sharp increase in censorship activity when it ran an automated scan on October 16. That was the day after Saudi and Turkish officials had conducted a joint inspection of the consulate, which Khashoggi entered a couple of weeks earlier to get a marriage license...She says the October scan showed that foreign news services such as Fox News, the Los Angeles Times, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation were suddenly being blocked. Although the interference has since diminished for some sites, access to the Times’ website and, an English-language daily in Saudi Arabia, is still being restricted." - Martin Giles, MIT Technology Review
otf  censorship  access  block  Saudi  saudiarabia  mena 
november 2018 by dmcdev
How Twitter endangered a Saudi activist after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi
"Twitter, the platform that once saved my life, is now putting it in danger. The events in the weeks following Jamal Khashoggi’s murder inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul showed that the lives of other journalists and activists are also at risk. Seven years after Twitter saved me, I recently made the choice to delete my Twitter account...Twitter has became full of harassment, death threats, intimidation and false news for us who have chosen to speak out in the Arab world. Twitter has not enacted any real change in making Twitter safer for us, which has pushed so many I know to quit the platform. Still, I continued to voice my views there. I believed that those governments should be the ones to be afraid, not us. I believed that I finally had a voice, and that I should use it." - Manal al-Sharif for the Washington Post
saudiarabia  twitter  social  speech  safety  mena  foe 
november 2018 by dmcdev
Saudis’ Image Makers: A Troll Army and a Twitter Insider
Incoming ICFP fellow Alexei Abrahams [] was quoted in this New York Times piece on the Saudi Arabian government's efforts to slant discussions and silence critical voices on Twitter.

From the article:

"Yet the government’s social media manipulation tracks with crackdowns in recent years in other authoritarian states, said Alexei Abrahams, a research fellow at Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto.

Even for conversations involving millions of tweets, a few hundred or a few thousand influential accounts drive the discussion, he said, citing new research. The Saudi government appears to have realized this and tried to take control of the conversation, he added.

'From the regime’s point of view,' he said, 'if there are only a few thousand accounts driving the discourse, you can just buy or threaten the activists, and that significantly shapes the conversation.'"
otf  saudiarabia  mena  twitter  social  misinformation  disinfo 
october 2018 by dmcdev
The Kingdom’s Hackers and Bots: how Saudi Arabia uses cutting-edge technology to track dissidents and stifle dissent
"According to experts who study Riyadh’s use of digital surveillance and propaganda, Saudi Arabia has deployed both spyware against critics of the regime and Twitter bots as part of its effort to maintain its grip on power, monitor dissident voices, and control its domestic public sphere. One of the Saudis apparently knowledgeable in the use of surveillance software, Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, has been described as an official close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Mutreb also appears to have played a role in [journalist Jamal] Khashoggi’s death, according to evidence compiled by Turkish authorities. He was spotted entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul shortly before Khashoggi. According to emails published by WikiLeaks in 2015, Mutreb and other Saudi officials were due to receive training in the use of spyware similar to what the Israeli firm NSO markets from the Italian company Hacking Team...Bill Marczak, a senior research fellow at Citizen Lab, said Saudi Arabia has deployed Pegasus in a large number of countries, including Bahrain, Canada, Egypt, France, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. 'It is possible that the Saudis were using it pretty recklessly,' he said. Riyadh has also deployed a sizable bot army to control the online narrative and drown out criticism of the regime."
otf  saudiarabia  mena  twitter  social  bots  misinformation  hack  nsogroup  surveillance 
october 2018 by dmcdev
Human rights blogger arrested in Saudi Arabia
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is calling on Saudi Arabia to release Nouf Abdulaziz Al Jerawi, a journalist and human rights activist arrested on June 6; there's been no word of her condition or status since then. Saudi NGO Al Qst said on Twitter that Al Jerawi was arrested following a raid on her home.

RSF: "Al Jerawi, who is also a journalist, recently stopped posting on Twitter, even privately, because she had been concerned about the possibility of arrest ever since an earlier wave of arrests of women rights activists, including the blogger Eman al Nafjan in mid-May. 'The Saudi authorities accuse the bloggers and journalists they jail of giving the kingdom a bad image but it is these waves of arrests that harm Saudi Arabia’s image,' RSF said. 'The kingdom’s authorities are themselves wrecking the progressive image they are trying to project.' A supporter of constitutional reform in Saudi Arabia and the region’s Arab Springs, Al Jerawi has worked for several Saudi media outlets and has written about human rights violations in her blog, which currently cannot be accessed."
otf  saudiarabia  mena  blogger  foe  arrest  jail 
june 2018 by dmcdev
The Yemen War Online: Propagation of Censored Content on Twitter
In Yemen, Twitter is a platform that enables the dissemination of content blocked elsewhere on the web, and while censored content is made available there, users tend to "coalesce into self-defined media spheres aligned around social and political affinities" a new Berkman Klein Internet Monitor report finds. Additionally, a sizable proportion of users in Yemen and Saudi Arabia make use of Psiphon to circumvent government-imposed censorship.

From the report: "While selective exposure to web content is often associated with polarization, we show that social media—in this case Twitter—is used to propagate censored content from the open web, making it more visible to users behind open-web filtering regimes. The evidence shows that government attempts to corral social media users into government-friendly media bubbles does not work, although government filters make it more difficult to access some content...Data from circumvention tool service Psiphon confirm that a significant number of users in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, the two countries directly involved in the war, bypass local filtering regimes by employing circumvention tools. We can infer from this that users behind filtering regimes can access censored open web content and share blocked content on social media platforms including Twitter. Twitter and other platforms that have implemented HTTPS serve as recommendation systems for both blocked and unblocked content. Users who encounter blocked URLs on Twitter can use circumvention tools to bypass the filtering. Moreover, the sharing of blocked content on social media platforms serves as an incentive to adopt circumvention tools."
otf  yemen  saudiarabia  mena  censorship  social  twitter 
march 2018 by dmcdev
Saudi Arabia arrests 46 for "using social media to spread dissent": Reuters
"Saudi authorities said on Wednesday they had arrested 22 people, including a Qatari national, for using social media to spread dissent. Another 24 people were detained in the northern Hail region for stirring tribal divisions, the state news agency SPA reported. Neither report went into the details of the offenses...The online postings stirred “up feelings towards issues that are still under consideration,” and incited people to commit crimes, SPA said." - Reuters
otf  saudi  saudiarabia  ksa  social  speech  mena 
october 2017 by dmcdev
Saudi Arabia to lift ban on internet calls
"Saudi Arabia is lifting a ban on voice and video calling apps such as Skype, in a move aimed at boosting productivity and economic growth. The ministry of communications said access to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) would be 'widely available to users' from Wednesday. It had previously blocked VoIP apps for failing to comply with 'regulations'. The announcement comes only days after Snapchat blocked Al Jazeera from its app in the conservative Gulf kingdom. Saudi officials accused the Qatar-based network of being a 'harmful, propaganda-pushing channel that supports extremism'." - BBC
otf  saudiarabia  snap  mena  social  censor  censorship 
september 2017 by dmcdev
Al Jazeera attacks Snap for ‘censoring’ content in Saudi Arabia
"Al Jazeera lashed out at the company behind Snapchat’s decision to remove the Qatari-owned network’s stories and videos from its app in Saudi Arabia.

As Snap gets dragged into the divisive Gulf dispute, Al Jazeera on Monday said the US group’s “alarming” move sent a message that countries could silence dissenting views by pressuring social media and content distribution companies.

Snap had earlier confirmed it had pulled Al Jazeera’s channel on the Discover section of Snapchat following a request from Saudi Arabia’s Communications and Information Technology Commission, saying it would comply with local laws." - Tim Bradshaw and Simeon Kerr, Financial Times
otf  snap  saudi  saudiarabia  social  censorship  mena 
september 2017 by dmcdev
People in the UAE Can Now Be Jailed for 15 Years for ‘Liking’ Qatar
"Retweeting on Twitter or pressing the 'like' button on a on a Facebook post that shows sympathy for Qatar can now land you in jail for up to 15 years in the United Arab Emirates.

The new cybercrime law came into effect [two days ago], days after the oil-rich kingdom severed diplomatic ties with its neighbor, following Saudi Arabia's lead. The UAE's attorney general, Hamad Said al-Shamsi, released the statement on Wednesday." - Farid Farid, Motherboard
otf  uae  qatar  mena  saudi  saudiarabia  speech  social  facebook  foe 
june 2017 by dmcdev
Netizen Report: In Cuba, Text Messages With Controversial Content Are Disappearing
Journalists in Cuba have evidence that the Cuban government is monitoring and selectively blocking mobile SMS messages based on keywords such as “human rights”; a web journalist is arrested in Venezuela; Saudi Arabia bans LINE messaging app; and more from Global Voices Advocacy's Netizen Report
otf  cuba  venezuela  saudiarabia  line  media  press  access  censorship 
september 2016 by dmcdev
Angered by Mobile App Censorship, Saudis Ask: ‘What’s the Point of Having Internet?’ · Global Voices
Residents of Saudi Arabia can no longer make calls using the messaging and voice calling app LINE. Authorities blocked LINE's calling feature over the weekend of September 3, adding it to the long list of VoIP services and messaging apps entirely or partially blocked in Saudi Arabia.
- Afef Abrougui, Global Voices
otf  saudiarabia  saudi  MENA  mobile  app  censorship  line  viber  whatsapp  privacy  security 
september 2016 by dmcdev
Iranian Hardliners Want to Stop Blocking Twitter — to Defeat Saudi Propaganda - Global Voices Advocacy
A group of Iranian government hardliners, who typically stand at the forefront of policies curtailing freedom of expression, are demanding that Iran stop blocking Twitter.

This sudden change of tune has very little to do with the rights of Iranian users. Rather, they are making this move in an effort to ensure Iranian dominance in a so-called Twitter war with Saudi Arabia.
- Global Voices Advocacy
otf  iran  twitter  social  saudiarabia  speech  propaganda  MENA  humanrights 
july 2016 by dmcdev
Saudi Arabia and Iran: Enemies With a Common Problem (the Internet)
How to satisfy citizens and expand access to the global Internet while maintaining their stranglehold on power and access to information? - Research by Statfor
otf  mena  saudiarabia  iran  access  censorship 
may 2016 by dmcdev
Saudi Arabia Sentences Twitter User to 10 Years in Prison and 2,000 Lashes for Apostasy
Saudi Arabia has sentenced a Twitter user to 10 years in prison in addition to 2,000 lashes for publishing 600 tweets “which spread atheism” on the micro-blogging site. - Amira Al Hussaini, Global Voices Advocacy
otf  twitter  saudiarabia  saudi  MENA  speech  expression  humanrights  access 
february 2016 by dmcdev

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