Another Internet Filtering Government - Step up Algeria

Well Algeria supposedly has a democratically elected government, but that never stopped anyone from the heavy handed filtering of the internet to it's citizens (just visit Australia!).     The first contested elections were only held in 2004 so I guess we shouldn't have expected too much.    But anyway, we have yet another internet filtering government to add to the growing list, a pretty comprehensive list in Africa where you think they'd really have other priorities.

Up until now, Algeria have actually controlled internet access in the country anyway, the infrastructure is controlled by the state and the content has previously been regulated by other means.  Basically until they implemented filtering, criminal penalties and fines have been imposed on internet users and ISPs.

The basis of these restrictions seem to be here, so beware if you ignore this very specific guidance .......
Any publishing or posting deemed contrary to public order or morality could end with you being locked up, nice and clear huh! Religious freedom is also plummeting as the President introduces legislation restricting non-Muslim worship. Journalists and freedom of speech advocates have to be very careful with what they do online or offline with the government agencies monitoring their every move.

It was almost inevitable that they would introduce internet filtering though, the risk the internet represents to many of these governments and regimes through freedom of expression is too much. I often think the main reason that filtering isn't more widespread in these countries is simply the finance and skills to implement the technology are a bit short on the ground.   This is one of the huge and sad ironies of the restriction of internet access and technologies in countries like Algeria.  The internet opens up a huge range of global opportunities to African nations, which the governments instantly close.

Anyway it appears the website which has the honour of being first filtered by this newest censoring Government and what site is deemed so dangerous to the Algerian morality and order. Well we can't know for sure the extent of the filtering yet, but the first reported casuality I have come across is the Rachad web site.  If you want to read more about it (and in English), check out the FAQ pages on their site.   You'll discover that it is a political organisation opposed to the Government, which of course is why it's been filtered.

I don't know much about Rachad, their aims seem straight forward enough and it's supposedly a non-violent opposition movement which is of course essential to any healthy democracy.  It yet again illustrates the real agenda of internet filtering by governments.  All the high profile statements will be regarding protecting public morality by targeting  pornography and violence. In China porn surfing actually went through the roof when the State offered a reward for any pornographic site that was accessible through their firewall!

The agenda of implementing technology to filter internet access is usually justified on the some what dubious morality of the implementers.  Yet their real aim is so often to merely block and restrict both freedom of speech and the right to protest.  Sure we of course can use programs like Identity Cloaker to bypass restrictions and protect ourselves from being monitored, but of course it's not so easy for people in many countries to be able to buy their freedom online.

I will for one be watching to see how this filtering develops in Algeria, although I can already guess what web sites will follow there's usually a fairly standard pattern that these censoring regimes follow.