Internet or Enter-Not: the Syrian Experience

(Hivos & Amsterdam University)

This working paper discusses the status of the internet in Syria. Syrian authorities show a large amount of distrust vis-à-vis the new technology and there is much state control. The list of banned sites is long, varied and flexible. Website bans are about muzzling free expression and controlling access to information. Syrians are arrested because of their beliefs they express on the Web.

Is there a future for the use of internet as a tool of expression in Syria? Syrians try to find their way beyond the arbitrary restrictions of the regime. Some IT specialists have managed to bypass bans by using special software. Despite its precarious state, the internet in Syria remains an option for expressing political, cultural and social protest. The political opposition has used the internet to circulate its bulletins and statements – relatively efficiently, too, within the limits of what is possible.

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