CPJ Blog

Press Freedom News and Views

UAE

Blog   |   Sri Lanka, UAE

Sri Lankan journalist in UAE still at risk of deportation

Lohini Rathimohan, a former television journalist from Sri Lanka, faces an unclear future. The 28-year-old is among 15 Tamil refugees still sheltered in a single room of an aluminum factory at Dubai's Jebel Ali port whose official statuses remain uncertain.

Blog   |   Sri Lanka, UAE

Tamil journalist will not be forced back to Sri Lanka

A short note to follow up on an alert we posted Wednesday on the threatened deportation of Lohini Rathimohan  (also spelled Lokini), a former television journalist and one of 19 Tamil refugees facing deportation from the United Arab Emirates. Earlier reports said the refugees, who reached Dubai illegally, could be deported this week.

Blog   |   Qatar, UAE

In UAE and Qatar, key trials go unreported as media barred

A civil defense officer carries the body of a young victim a mall fire during a funeral in Doha on May 29, 2012. Hearings to determine criminal responsibility for the fire are underway. (Reuters/Hamad I Mohammed)

In the past month, officials in both the United Arab Emirates and Qatar have prevented journalists from reporting on important court proceedings. But it is not too late to allow the press to cover these crucial cases.

Blog   |   Internet, Syria, UAE

Beyond the Amina hoax: Real cases in the Middle East

A Gay Girl in Damascus was a personal blog, said to be written by a young woman named Amina Arraf, that appeared to give an everyday record of being a lesbian in modern-day Syria. Following the events of the Arab Spring, as the political situation in Syria grew less stable, the blog attracted more readers and media coverage. Its compelling descriptions of Syrian life gave many a way to connect emotionally to a distant crisis. On June 6, the author's "cousin" wrote that the blogger had been seized by the security services.

June 15, 2011 6:07 PM ET

Tags:

Blog   |   China, India, Internet, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, UAE

Use your Blackberry to map global surveillance

The University of Toronto's Citizen Lab has announced a research project to analyze the global infrastructure of Research In Motion, maker of the BlackBerry. It's looking for BlackBerry users from any country to take part--especially those in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, India, Indonesia, Russia and China.

All of these countries have at some point demanded that RIM make their BlackBerry network more surveillance-friendly. Some have threatened to ban BlackBerry services outright if their demands are not met. Other reports suggest that RIM has made concessions to some of these countries' demands.

One possible concession RIM might make is to move its Blackberry Internet Service (BIS) servers to locations within those countries' jurisdictions. BIS servers are the bridges between the internal BlackBerry network and the wider Internet. A locally-hosted BIS server would make it easier for domestic security services to monitor BlackBerry users' general Web traffic.

RIM has kept quiet about what agreements, if any, it has made with any government. Nevertheless, it is theoretically possible to work out the location of these BIS servers externally. If you're a journalist who uses a BlackBerry, all you have to do to help with this project is to visit the RimCheck website using your BlackBerry device and fill out a short form. The site will record the IP address of the machine your request comes from, and will attempt to determine where in the world that server could be located.

The conclusions that the RIM Check project draws from this study will be published when the group has collected enough data. Concrete statistics like this will mean we'll finally be able to see if BlackBerry's send their data exclusively through Canadian servers as some believe or whether RIM has distributed these servers globally--potentially allowing users' unencrypted Net traffic to be as monitorable as that sent through a local Internet service provider.
October 21, 2010 5:27 PM ET

Tags:

Blog   |   Dubai, Internet, Oman, UAE

More on RIM

Another piece on RIM by the Guardian, this time reporting that the UAE were after BlackBerry messaging info, because of its use in spreading gossip about high-profile Emiratis. These quotes (translated here) from Dubai's police chief, Lt.-Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim, where he says the ban was also "meant to control false rumors and defamation of public figures due to absence of surveillance", tend to confirm that.

Meanwhile, not to be outdone, Oman has banned Virtual Private Networks (commonly used to give correspondents access to the company network back home). Not surprising, given that Oman supposedly already bans the use of encryption. Will it go after the banks next?

September 3, 2010 8:42 PM ET

Tags:

Blog   |   Canada, India, India, Internet, Saudi Arabia, UAE, USA

What should journalists know about BlackBerry fights?

A Blackberry logo is prominently displayed in Ahmadabad, India. (AP)

The discussions between Research In Motion, maker of the BlackBerry, and governments such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and India continue to hit the headlines. In each case, disagreements center on providing customer communications to security and law enforcement services. The rumblings from these nations over monitoring powers aren't just limited to RIM: India has announced its intention to put the same pressure on Google (for Gmail), and Skype (for its IM and telephony services).

September 1, 2010 5:33 PM ET

Tags:

Blog   |   Bahrain, India, Internet, UAE

Why governments don't need RIM to crack the BlackBerry

The UAE said on Sunday it will block key features on BlackBerrys, citing national security concerns. (AP/Kamran Jebreili, File)

The United Arab Emirates' Telecommunications Regulation Authority (TRA) announced on Sunday that it would be suspending BlackBerry "messenger, e-mail and Web-browsing services" in the country from October 11, until these "applications were in full compliance with UAE regulations." Given the popularity of the BlackBerry platform in the country (an estimated 500,000 users from a population of 4.5 million) one can only assume that we are seeing a form of brinkmanship--with the privacy of e-mails, IMs, and website visits at stake.

August 3, 2010 4:37 PM ET

Tags:

Blog   |   Iraq, Security, UAE, USA

FOIA needs new muscle behind it, not just promises

The White House says it wants to improve transparency. Greater access to information could prevent deaths of journalists in the field.These are busy days for Freedom of Information. On April 5, the watchdog Web site that knows no borders, WikiLeaks, posted a classified U.S. military video showing U.S. forces firing on Iraqi civilians, killing many, including two Reuters journalists, as well as wounding children. Two days later, the Pentagon posted a redacted U.S. military assessment of the same incident concluding that U.S. troops fired “in accordance with the law of armed conflict and rules of engagement.” The very same day President Obama hailed the scheduled release of a new Open Government Initiative by all Cabinet agencies to improve transparency and compliance with information requests.

April 26, 2010 10:51 AM ET

Tags:

Blog   |   Burma, Canada, China, Cuba, Ethiopia, Iran, Pakistan, Syria, UAE, USA

Toronto’s Citizen Lab uses forensics to fight online censors

A basement in the gray, Gothic heart of the University of Toronto is home to the CSI of cyberspace. “We are doing free expression forensics,” says Ronald Deibert, director of the Citizen Lab, based at the Munk Centre for International Studies. Deibert and his team of academics and students investigate in real time governments and companies that restrict what we see and hear on the Internet. They are also trying to help online journalists and bloggers slip the shackles of censorship and surveillance. Deibert is a co-founder of the OpenNet Initiative (ONI), a project of the Citizen Lab in collaboration with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. ONI tracks the blocking and filtering of the Internet around the globe.

November 2, 2009 3:29 PM ET

Tags:

Social Media

View all »