Associated Press Writer
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) - Syria is cracking down more on Internet use, imposing tighter monitoring of citizens who link to the Web, as well as jailing bloggers who criticize the government and blocking YouTube and other Web sites deemed harmful to state security.
The tighter hand is coming even as Syrian officials show off a press center with fast Internet access and wireless technology for journalists covering this weekend's Arab League summit. The clampdown doesn't appear to be tied to the summit.
In recent days, authorities extended restrictions on Web use by requiring owners of Internet cafes to keep detailed logs of their customers, apparently to make it easier to track down anyone deemed to be a threat.
The rules, conveyed orally by security agents, require Internet cafes to record a client's full name, ID or passport number, the computer used and the amount of time spent on the device. The logs must be available to show to security agents upon demand.
``It's a new form of psychological pressure and part of the state's systematic intimidation of Internet users,'' said Mazen Darwish, a journalist who heads the independent Syrian Media Center.
``It works to a certain extent in the sense that it creates a kind of self-censorship among users,'' he told The Associated Press.
Darwish has been targeted in a crackdown on journalists. He was arrested in January as he reported on unrest over a murder in Adra, near Damascus, and is on trial before a military court for allegedly defaming state institutions. He faces up to a year in jail if convicted, he says.