Censorship laws have been present in a variety countries for many years. Some countries like the United States and Canada have laws that allow citizens access to certain governmental information. Countries like Tunisia and China have decided that censorship of internet resources is a must for all citizens. While most internet resources accessed in Tunisia live in the United states, including social media giants like Google, Facebook and Twitter. During the Ben Ali Administration (2004-2011) the Tunisian Government decided to ban these sites while also using forms of hacking to censor the information present on these sites. These actions went against all terms and conditions of the sites and eventually agencies like Anonymous stepped in in order to restore the freedom of information.
The Tunisian Government was using online censorship as a way to restrict young middle eastern activists from accessing global ideas and material. All of these actions are in an attempt to secure control for the governing bodies. These governing bodies believe that less freedom of speech or expression simplifies the governing fight with the people. It was not uncommon for sites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to be blocked, requiring users to use VPNS or Proxies to bypass these filters and break the current law. A standard IP Ban was placed, limiting direct access to all media sharing sites. The government also launched country wide phishing attacks where they would obtain access to a user’s account and change their information.
Third Party organizations became a huge part of this time period in Tunisia. In a press conference done by Anonymous they declared war on the country. Stating that because the “Tunisian government is placing restrictions on the free access of information they are making themselves an enemy of Anonymous.” (Anonymous) Anonymous helped spread the information pertaining to censorship to all those in favor. This really helped to expand and grow the knowledge and actions taken against the government. These actions have sent messages to neighboring countries like Spain and the US to allow the freedom of expression in the free world. Anonymous was not the only hacker group that supported the revolution. Facebook launched their own “attacks” against the government by changing the way all Tunisians accessed the site. They required the use of HTTPS or Secure Web Traffic. Eventually other sites followed suit and within 5 days 100% of all traffic for facebook was routed through secure channels.
Author: Taylor Harris is a Junior Computer Networking and Cyber Security Student at Champlain College in Burlington VT.
Professor: Rob Williams, Ph.D., Champlain College Faculty Advisor