Tunisia: An InterNET Connected Society


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

7 thoughts on “Tunisia: An InterNET Connected Society

  1. Jonah Allibone

    I did a project on Tunisia and I had no idea that Tunisia was censoring to such an extent. This really shocked me, and I was extremely surprised to find out that Anonymous also got involved!

  2. Shirley Reid

    Censorship and blocking free access to the media, google, etc happens in every country in the world, maybe not to the extent or blatancy that it does in Tunisia. The US Press is largely responsible for the results of the 2016 Presidential election in the US thereby manipulating the populace who think we have freedom of the press. Big countries like China will ultimately find a way around the censorship but smaller economies will have a harder time.

  3. Matthew Martin

    Censorship is an issue in some countries more than others and it certainly seems like Tunisia is one of those countries. I’m happy we have the access to the information we do online and through libraries to seek out things we would like to know. It’s scary that some governments have this type of censorship and distaste for freedom of speech.

  4. Matthew Saccoach

    I did my project on the film industry in China. As you mention in your dialogue, China also has very intensive censorship policies. It surprised me to see that another country could have similar censorship policies is pretty mind boggling especially in our society where free speech and the internet are so ingrained. What do the citizens think of the government censoring their internet access, and how does the government structure allow for this censorship to happen?

  5. Michael Deplante

    This is extremely interesting considering i did my project on the Great Firewall in China. I did not account for groups like Anonymous and their impact in countries like Tunisia who you described also cenor a great deal of information. I find it fascinating that so many people around the world use VPN technology to evade these conditions. I was not aware of the extent to which the government in Tunisia censored information but would be interested in learning more. I wonder how different the Tunisian censorship laws are from those in China and what kind of effect, if any does censorship have on the Tunisian economy.

  6. Brandon Zheng

    This was interesting because I did not know that this was happening in Tunisia. It seems that many different nations around the world are practicing some form of censorship. I did my project on how the visual style of Chinese films will look like by the year 2020 and happened to talk a little bit about censorship. The Chinese government is similar to the Tunisia government as they have created their own separate branch of regulating of what comes in and out. This way the government has creative control over its people. The Chinese government has created the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) that regulates the amount of Western film into the country. In order to meet the standards of SARFT, they may require some films to be reedit based on the type of content shown such as blood or nudity.

  7. Summer Softleigh

    This is a very interesting post. The internet, and Facebook, is a prime way of communication for many people. In fact, we were required to use Facebook for our own project (http://globalconnections.champlain.edu/2016/11/29/visual-icons-effective-not-abstract/). Imagine if we were censored in what we sent to the Jordanians or Americans? Or if they were censored when sending responses? Our results would have been skewed and we wouldn’t have gotten any useful information out of our project. Even a little censorship can make a whole project worthless. I am thankful for hacker groups like Anonymous, who are what some would consider “grey-hat”, or neutral, hackers, to protect the cause of the internet.


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