“As Middle East regimes try to stifle dissent by censoring the Internet, the U.S. faces an uncomfortable reality: American companies provide much of the technology used to block websites. McAfee Inc., acquired last month by Intel Corp., has provided content-filtering software used by Internet-service providers in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, according to interviews with buyers and a regional reseller. Blue Coat Systems Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif., has sold hardware and technology in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar that has been used in conjunction with McAfee’s Web-filtering software and sometimes to block websites on its own, according to interviews with people working at or with ISPs in the region. A regulator in Bahrain, which uses McAfee’s SmartFilter product, says the government is planning to switch soon to technology from U.S.-based Palo Alto Networks Inc. It promises to give Bahrain more blocking options and make it harder for people to circumvent censoring. Netsweeper Inc. of Canada has landed deals in the UAE, Qatar and Yemen, according to a company document. …….”
Now U.S corporations are providing the technology for these unsavory regimes on the Persian-American Gulf to block and possibly identify dissidents and locate them. Ironically they are helping to weaken and kill the Internet, an American invention, one of America’s greatest modern gifts to humanity. Arab regimes have been trying to coordinate the suppression of the Internet for a few years now: they are good at cording suppression. The Saudi have “led” the way this past year with new rules to suppress the internet. The Saudi rules now require every blogger to obtain permission from the ministry of information, answer certain questions, and apply for a license. That and the usual “state security” background check are enough discourage many. But I imagine many bloggers can “base” their blogs overseas. The UAE had issues last year with the Blackberry manufacturer because the regime wanted to be able to spy on users. Eventually the company (Research in Motion) gave in and the users lost.
I wonder what technology the Iranian censors are using. Most likely the same.