The development of the web 2.0 is opening up new opportunities for the opposition groups throughout the Middle Eastern autocracies. Recently Facebook and Twitter were an important factor during the uprisings after the controversial Iranian presidential elections. But the regimes in the region are striking back by heavily increasing their censorship of the internet.
During the past few years, the governments realized how substantial the opportunities of the web 2.0 are for gathering and distributing information, for exchanging ideas as well as organising and mobilising social groups. The Arab states became precursors of internet censorship. A paper published by Reporters Without Borders denounces twelve states worldwide as special enemies of the internet. With Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Tunisia, five of them are from the Middle East and North African region.
A rich toolbox of censorship and intimidation
In order to limit the mobility of internet activists, the authorities came up with various tools. Special laws and decrees prohibit information that is considered to be against either the Islam (Kuwait), national interests (Kuwait, Syria) or the respective head of state (Tunisia).