24 January 2009

Country of Disinformation

The Ministry of Information in Bahrain has never really done much of a great job; their role in the country is quite varied, dealing with the running of the Bahrain TV channels (which are still stuck in the 80's), the Bahrain radio stations (which usually feel more like amateur efforts than serious radio stations), to having a hand in everything that the has to do with the media, from magazines, newspapers, films, and the internet.

Being the Ministry of "Information", you would expect them to be knowledgeable about most things, especially those that they deal with.

Unfortunately, that isn't true.

A little over a week ago, the Ministry decided to come up with a directive for all internet providers in the country to block a number of websites (somewhere between 20-30 sites; i'm not sure of the exact number). These included a number of forums, blogs, and information websites, mainly because of their political content. Of course, even when a website is blocked, users can access it through anonymous browsing/proxy services. So oops, let's block those too. Oh and guess what, you can also enter any website address into Google Translate, and get a translated version of that page, bypassing any blocked content. So guess what? That gets blocked too.

Okay; so the Ministry want to block certain information from coming in. Last time I checked, we were living in the Information Age. Not the Industrial Age, not the Nuclear Age, not the sticks and stones age. THE INFORMATION AGE. Information will get through, whether you like it or not; if you block a website, there's a proxy. If you block a proxy, there's a million more proxies that are available. If you block every single one of those, there are services like Google Translate that will bypass the blocked sites. If you block those, there are a million other ways to get past blocked information; through blogs, through email, through new forums, through Facebook, through messages, through pure old photocopied papers, through SMS messages, through phone calls, through satellite TV channels, through gatherings in someones house, in a coffee shop,

There is no such thing as a complete block for information nowadays, and especially when it concerns the internet. Information is not a one way street, you can't block it and expect that people will give up and go to sleep. Nowadays, there is ALWAYS a way around it.

I'm really not for or against what is being blocked; I honestly couldn't care less about different peoples' political agendas. What I completely and 100% oppose is the restrictions of free speech, of which a law has recently been granted in Bahrain. And even then, this isn't what i'm here to talk about; my point is that you cant block the internet. But let's leave this on the side for now and go back to what's being blocked.

Google Translate?

ARE YOU FRICKIN' KIDDING ME?! This is probably one of the most useful tools on the internet today, giving us access to knowledge and information from all over the World! It gives us a chance to communicate with people from other parts of the globe, do commerce with people from other countries whose language we can't speak, and opens up a multitude of opportunities.

But nooooo... MOI decides it has to be blocked because you can bypass their blocked sites with it, which tells you one thing; it doesn't really bother them how many benefits something has, as long as it sparks one negative issue for them. This means there's no real limit to what they can block. What's next, Gmail? Hotmail? Facebook? MSN Messenger?

There are still a million other ways around the blocks, which renders their whole effort useless, just makes us more mad, and brings down the levels of freedom in this country. From the actions of the past few days, it's not really far-fetched that someone from the Ministry of Interior comes across my website, sees how i've put-down their whole blocking charade, and decide that ammaro.com needs to go too. (Speaking of which, if they do block my site, my posts are distributed by email, they're on feedburner, they're on BahrainBlogs, they're on Facebook, they're everywhere. Don't worry, you can still get your regular dosage of ammaroness; your world will not end.)

Just today I got a message; it seems they decided to start blocking anything with porn in it, as well as online gambling sites. Now that's just stupid; porn is everywhere, from downloading it on peer-to-peer networks, getting it through email, as well as satellite channels which every household has nowadays. And gambling? Well you could start by stopping that BD50 win-a-car lottery thing in the airport Duty Free, because if that isn't gambling, I don't know what is.

Ministry of Information; PLEASE WAKE UP.

(PS. Just to give you a sample of how BAD a job they're doing, even with trying to block sites, check this out:

Try going to http://google.com/translate, and you'll get a blocked site notice.

Want to bypass it? Then just go to http://translate.google.com/. Apparently their Head Blocker Engineer (blockhead?) doesn't realize that there are different forms of domain name that can lead you to the same website. Duh.


Ahmedz said...

I would love to castrate their Blockhead for blocking Deviantart.com >=D

mady said...

It seems like our government is getting more stupid everyday!
It is all about religion and politics (by religion I mean politics in a deferent form). I always believed that Muslims and Arabs will never be able to have free speech / Act! Because it is against your religion (politics)! Like it or not “IT IS”. If these guys want us to stop watching porn, gamble, join some satanic cult, it should be ok! Because that is what it says in your book, the Quran! (That is if you conceder yourself a Muslim)
The government has to make sure that you are busy pretending they care about this crap! Years ago I remember they started this thing where any metal concert ended up in the newspaper as a satanic gathering, u know, it was to keep the readers busy and the stupid mullas happy! These rules and regulations that are all around Bahrain’s ministries are a prove of the weakness of this government that is being controlled by old (old in age) shaiks from the royal family and “mot’7alif” mullas that couldn’t believe they got elected to earn their 2000 BD salary and there BMW.
The problem here is the government waists their time on shit that doesn’t matter … guys you are living in one of the most corrupted countries! I don’t know why we should even bother talking about this.
I totally believe that you should be allowed to say and do whatever you want as long as you are not harming other people.

zainal said...

it bother me to the bones "censorship" ...
They decides what you can do and what you cant do, virtually offcourse, rings a bell ?

the equilibrium, probably china ...

so whats next? facebook, myspace, youtube, vimeo ...

bye bye age of engage, an era where people are moving forward towards interaction and online communities, audio video social medias...

i have just posted an article related to the new digital medium ... well guess what it will be useless if everything gets blocked :D !

Anonymous said...

I dont understand WTF they meant by blocking the biggest ART forum on earth - Deviantart.com

The only thing that was political there were hundreds of Pro-Palestinian Free Gaza art. That doesn't make sense.

Please sign this petition and I hope Ammaro, someone uses 'Waasta' to unblock stuff like Deviantart.

Its stuff like this which makes people break rules :(


ammaro said...

zainal; even china is starting to open up more and more by the day. they're evolving. we're dissolving.

zainal said...

you are right ...
remember the old days? where companies firewalls used to block stuff down on their employees?

recent studies from IBM states that companies now days allows their employees to surf around to get inspired, or to post on blogs & social networks to increase awareness, the company itself might have a page on facebook for example... make them feel at home to be productive.

"we need to learn to let go"

I have just recently posted something about social networks and smart mobiles ... we'll never reach there ...

Inspiring sites like devian art is blocked too, WTH !

Anonymous said...

for God sake the daily star a british tabloid magazine is also block because it shows girls with skin aswell as maxim magazine. what's next they take them of the selves at bahrain stores.



Anonymous said...

you should start cash prize for anyone who hacks http://filter.batelco.com.bh/ and places a photo of a hairy ass instead of the site block message.

fr7ty said...

السلام عليكم

موقع أكثر من رائع شكرا لكم

موضوع جميل جدا يستحق القراءه

يوتيوب فيديو فرحتي


منتديات نسائيه


Lilliy said...

same problem here.. here if you go to the link posted on a twitter you cant get to it by directly clicking it its blocked.. links on twitter? so what happens is if you want to get to it go back to the twitter page of that person go to there website if it was through that and its not blocked and then see the entry.. people not in this region of the world are trying to think how to get information as quickly as possible to be available to anybody globaly your mobile phone the blackberry to the internet we are talking seconds and min.. to know it the second its availabe the second it happens and here we block it.. the whole world around us is moving so quickly but here every thing stands still and moves backwards every time we step a 1/2 a step to the front.

Anonymous said...

well u can Ddos http://filter.batelco.com.bh/ or just flood em useing several flood programs or use proxy programs such as g tunnel etc :) batelco sucks tbh