Browsing 'censorship' News

Operation Collateral Freedom

Reporters Without Borders

Qatar listed amongst RSF’s Enemies of the Internet

As Doha News approaches its fourth month of being blocked in Qatar, international non-profit Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has come up with an innovative solution to the issue.

As part of a campaign to mark World Day Against Cyber-Censorship, the group has launched a mirrored version of the Doha News website that is accessible in Qatar.

Bookmark this URL to access our site whenever you want: http://ec2-52-17-106-120.eu-west-1.compute.amazonaws.com/

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

If you use Google Chrome, RSF has also built a handy Chrome browser extension to make it easier to access the mirror.

Fighting censorship

The mirrored site is part of RSF’s annual Operation #CollateralFreedom campaign. This year, the group is unblocking 24 websites across Turkey, Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia and beyond.

RSF explains how it works on their website:

“Operation #CollateralFreedom circumvents technological censorship by means of an original strategy in which “mirrors” or duplicates of the censored websites are created on the servers of the world’s Internet giants.

Authoritarian regimes cannot block access to the mirrors without the “collateral damage” of restricting their own access to the services of these Internet companies.”

Do the sites for you? Thoughts?

European Parliament/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Any business operating in the field of “press and publications” in Qatar must have the necessary permits to do so, the Ministry of Culture and Sports has warned.

In an announcement printed in local newspapers today, the ministry’s Administration of Press and Publications said residents who have the following jobs must be licensed to “practice and perform these activities.”

They are:

“All working in the field of press and publications, including newspapers, magazines, and or any print or publication despite its circulation method, either on paper or electronically, publishing houses and distribution and all working in the field of publicity, advertising, public relations, artistic works and artistic/technical productions.”

Those who do not have licenses should contact the ministry to “adjust their situation,” the announcement added.

Announcement

Licensing spree

The ministry referred to decree No. 16 of 1993 on the organization of promotional activities, advertising and public relations as justification for its regulation of the market.

Authorities did not give a timeline for when people operating in these fields without permits should come forward.

It also did not outline any penalties for those who violate government requirements.

But the announcement comes about a month after officials suddenly blocked http://ec2-52-17-106-120.eu-west-1.compute.amazonaws.com in Qatar for apparently not having the appropriate licenses.

Home businesses

It also follows the Ministry of Economy and Commerce’s recent introduction of sweeping new requirements for home businesses.

The arena was previously fairly unregulated. But this has prompted health and safety concerns from some, especially with regards to food-related businesses.

Supplied

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Now, entrepreneurs who work from home are required to have commercial licenses. These can only be obtained after meeting a series of government requirements.

Some say this move and other new attempts at regulation seem at odds with officials’ desire to boost Qatar’s private sector, as it only adds bureaucracy to the process.

Thoughts?

DN

Doha News

DN

The heads of Qatar’s two telecom companies have confirmed that http://ec2-52-17-106-120.eu-west-1.compute.amazonaws.com has been blocked inside the country.

In a statement to Doha News on Sunday, Ooredoo CEO Waleed Al-Sayed said:

“We can confirm that access to the Doha News website is currently restricted in Qatar, due to concerns raised regarding the licensing of your organization.

The two authorities best-placed to help you resolve this issue are the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Economy and Commerce.”

Vodafone CEO Ian Gray sent a separate statement echoing the confirmation, saying, “As you are aware, access to the Doha News website across the network of Vodafone Qatar Q.S.C is currently blocked.”

He continued:

“We kindly suggest that you make contact and liaise directly with the Ministry of Culture and also the Ministry of Economy and Commerce. We will be pleased to unblock access once the requirements of the relevant concerned parties have been met.”

Criticism

Doha News was officially blocked in Qatar on Nov. 30, after operating for six years as a website without issue.

Initially, Qatar’s standard censored image popped up when users tried to access the site.

Now, however, the page only appears to look like it is having trouble loading.

News of the move quickly spread internationally last week, with several people criticizing authorities in Qatar for having double standards.

However, officials have told Doha News that the issue is not one of censorship, but of proper licensing as a media company in Qatar.

We will be speaking more with authorities this week to see what can be done to resolve the issue.

Thoughts?