TUNISIA

Censorship lifted on the Tunisian Web

In a nationwide televised address on Thursday, January 11, Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali promised total freedom of information and unrestricted access to the Internet, following weeks of violent anti-government protests across the country.

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In a nationwide televised address on Thursday, January 11, Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali promised total freedom of information and unrestricted access to the Internet, following weeks of violent anti-government protests across the country.

 

On Friday morning, we were able to verify that websites usually blocked on the Tunisian territory, including those of key human rights groups, were freely accessible to Tunisian Web users. The France 24 Observers website, which has been censored in Tunisia for months, is once again available.

 

“An unprecedented event in the Internet’s short history”

 

This is an unprecedented event in the Internet’s short history. For the first time, an authoritarian government, faced with pressure from the street, has ended a 10-year-old policy of tight censorship.

 

Nevertheless, the president’s speech left room for the government to backtrack on the decision. By specifying that only content which “respects the deontology and ethics of good journalism” would be left uncensored, the president seemed to imply that content which does not, in the government’s view, respect this criteria could once again be blocked.

 

Web users must therefore remain vigilant to make sure that President Ben Ali keeps his promise in the long term. For now, however, Tunisians have access to an Internet which, for the first time in ten years, has not been filtered by the government.

 

“Without our Observers in Tunisia, we would not have been able to cover events in the country”

 

This is undoubtedly a major victory for Tunisian Web users, and for all those who, since the start of the protest movement, have used the Internet as a means to report the events through their photos, videos and eyewitness accounts.

 

The FRANCE 24 Observers team extend our sincerest thanks to our Observers in Tunisia for the remarkable work they accomplished over the past four weeks. Without them, we would not have been able to cover the recent events in their country.

 

We hope that what they have done will bring strength and courage to all those who, around the world, are fighting for a free Internet.

 

Julien Pain

 

Editor of the FRANCE 24 Observers Website and Television programme.

 

Provisional list of websites made available to Tunisian Web users yesterday:  Dailymotion, YouTube, Amnesty.org, Pdpinfo.org, kalimatunisie.com, the Facebook accounts of several opposition activists… (Source: Reporters Without Borders. Access to these websites was tested by our Observers Friday morning).

 

If you know more sites that were uncensored in Tunisia this morning, complete this list by posting your comment below.