They know where you live and they're coming for you!
By Sylvie Barak
THE SYRIAN GOVERNMENT is cracking the whip of "iron censorship" by forcing internet café users to sign in with their real names and by providing ID, a Syrian monitoring group told Reuters.
The Syrian Media Centre, which keeps its eye on media 'freedom' in the country, reckons that this is the government's latest attempt to silence the voice of public opinion against the repressive Baath Regime. Bloggers have been using sites like Googleblog and the Arab Maktoobblog to speak out about anything from public services to politics. But now these sites have been blocked and head of the Syrian Media Centre, Mazen Darwich, reckons that blogging will now become an even greater risk with dreadful prices to pay. "The government has been methodical in extending the scope of its iron censorship," he said.
In attempts which Syrian government officials reckon are necessary to 'protect' the country from what they describe as attempts to spread sectarian violence and "penetration by Israel", Internet café owners will now be forced to take down the ID card information of every client as well as the time they entered and left.
According to the Syrian media watchdog, many Syrians who have blogged against the regime have already been thrown in prison and 153 Internet sites have had their access blocked. Facebook and Youtube are strictly banned, as are, unsurprisingly all opposition party sites and Lebanese news sites which dare to protest Syria's meddling.
Syria is by no means the only country which censors the Internet and spies on web users, China recently introduced similar draconian regulations. While the US has been up to it all along.
14 Mar 2008 | 13:55 GMT _ the NQUIRER