I’ve been monitoring the French media for the last couple of weeks, keeping close note of what is being aired at prime time. The (unscientific) conclusion I reached is predictably disappointing: self-centered, mediocre, overwhelmingly boring, out of touch. Although the French media is closer culturally to Tunisia, its navel gazing and hypocrisy have never been more pathological. I haven’t seen much reports or in-depth analysis of what is happening in Tunisia. It’s not like people haven’t been protesting for more than two weeks now.
The country is being literally shut down from the rest of the world by Ben Ali’s online mob. The wall of internet censorship has grown higher and soon there will be nothing left out there for free Tunisians to voice their concerns to the rest of the world. A situation similar only to North Korea, which the French know more about than Tunisia, which is at a stone’s throw distance from Europe’s shores. In the virtual absence of mainstream media coverage, citizen journalists have decided to take over. Nawaat.org and it’s team of editors has been doing a great job in coordinating efforts to help Tunisian activists circumvent censorship online.
However, and in an apparent retaliatory move against an early attack by Anonymous, which successfully disabled official websites (like the prime minister’s official website, or even the president’s electoral campaign website, no less), the regime’s online police is tracking down activist’s accounts in order to break into their private conversations. Here is what Astrubal, co-editor of Nawaat, has been writing:
This campaign is likely aimed at stealing passwords and logins of users to browse through their private messages. The police is seeking to break into the accounts of users to know who communicates with whom and on what subject. With the end objective of
dismantling these networks of citizen journalism that formed spontaneously following the protests in Sidi Bouzid.
The events of Sidi Bouzid, have confirmed the importance of social networks in allowing a continuous flow of information. But ever since the events started, recurrent disruptions of the network were noticed. In the case of Facebook, connections, including the use of HTTPS (secured connection) to login, were often impossible to establish. The Tunisian regime has not dared, this time around, to block the whole Facebook service, the most popular social network in Tunisia. This time, the government seems to target more specifically those who use it to circulate information.
In any case, we remind all users of Facebook, especially if they are connecting from Tunisia: DO NOT CONNECT from an unsecure page. Even if you have nothing to hide, never forget that you were entrusted by the people who send you private messages. Even if the idea that someone can break into your private email account doesn’t bother you, you must respect the confidentiality of the private messages you receive.
For more readings and updates on censorship in Tunisia and on circumvention tools please follow these links:
– Amira Al Hussaini – Tunisia: Anonymous vs Ammar – Who Wins the Battle of Censorship?
– Evan Hill – Hackers hit Tunisian websites
– Sami Ben Gharbia – A First glimpse at the Internet Filtering in Tunisia
– Slim Amamou – Mass Gmail phishing in Tunisia
– Sami Ben Gharbia – Our Guide “Mirroring a Censored WordPress Blog” (Available in French)
– Global Voices Advocacy – Advocacy 2.0 Guide: Tools for Digital Advocacy
– boulabiar – “Mefiez vous des attaques Phishing” – Sreenshot