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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Access momentarily denied

My harmless little blog Cool Travel Guide has been blocked in Syria for a whole 24 hours - I was confronted with the dreaded "Access Denied" sign when I tried to update it yesterday. But, there's been a miracle, or someone came to their senses, and now I can access it. I realize my mistake - my Syrian advisors tell me it's because I used the 'I' word, which I'm not about to use again, so guess all you like. So, how did it get unblocked? Did the censors actually read the content and realise I was a 'friend' of Syria's? Just a travel writer who writes about places she loves and stays clear of politics? Or was it that the Minister for Information and her staff, who were staying at the same hotel as us last night, overheard my loud complaints to the general manager this morning? Either way, I can post for the moment, but if you don't hear from me again, you'll know why. Come and follow me on Twitter instead.

Post-script: this post and my tweets on Twitter generated scores of responses via email and Twitter about blogging in Syria. Most were friendly messages from Syrian bloggers, IT experts and officials, with tips on how to get around proxies, using Blogger/Blogspot and other blogging software in Syria, and advice on what's acceptable and what's not regarding blog content. I'm sorry I didn't have time to follow everyone's suggestions - it was an incredibly busy trip with little time for blogging unfortunately - but a huge thanks to everyone who got in touch.

11 comments:

Geotacs said...

wow!

i guess since "I" is just next door they can be pretty sensitive about it...

an experience which i think you will not soon forget...

keep those blogs and shots coming!

Jillian said...

As I said on Twitter, it's not you, it's them! Blogspot blogs have been blocked in Syria for well over a year; this is a well documented issue. If you were able to access yours before, it's because someone had set up a proxy where you were, or you were on an ISP that did not block them (some mobile phone users still have access to otherwise blocked sites).

There is plenty of research citing this:

http://opennet.net/research/profiles/syria

http://advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org/2007/10/22/syria-blogspot-blocked-what-to-do-next/

http://www.damasceneblog.com/the_damascene_blog/2006/02/syrian_isp_cens.html

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Either way, at least it is unblocked now :-)

I have just been writing a quick note about you to Michelle, and talking about you today in the travel agents :-)

Your Calabrian quide was in there :-) told the girl all about your interview with Michelle. She was very interested and quite impressed that I sort of know who wrote the quide !!

Travel Muse said...

Yikes, not you too! Glad to hear you're back online.

Nomadic Matt said...

you security risk you! :)

rghazzawi said...

Blogspot domain has been blocked in Syria for at least over two years. If you could access your blog from certain internet cafes in Syria it is so because they use a proxy.

I hope you're having a lovely time in Syria.

jen laceda said...

I'm sorry, but I'm a bit naive. What's the "I" word? Is it the country nearby?

Mark H said...

It is difficult to believe the level the "information police" will go to to prevent normal sites leaking out. I guess that why such wide spread blanket approaches are experienced in many cases. Good to hear you have your blog back.

World nomad said...

Oh yes I've seen this message before from Asia.. We have to be careful that it does not stop us from working online! =)

Shangrila Murree said...

I have just been writing a quick note about you to Michelle, and talking about you today in the travel agents :-)

Anonymous said...

cooltravelguide.blogspot.com; You saved my day again.