Yemen’s major news aggregator and portal calls for “insurgency against Internet filtering” after the government of Yemen blocked the portal and at least 7 other news Web sites. The portal, yemenportal.net, warned in a press release (Arabic) that, unless the government unblocks the news sites, the portal will provide space for banned websites to display their content in full.
ONI confirmed the inaccessibility of several news Web sites from Yemen this month and found out that this new wave of political blocking is not transparent. Users who attempt to access these news Web sites encounter error messages instead of the standard explicit blockage which the filtering regime returns for attempts to access objectionable content such as sex.
A screen shot of the error message returned to users who attempt to visit news Web sites
A screen shot of the error message returned to users who attempt to visit blocked content such as sex sites
Political filtering in Yemen is not new but this new crackdown on news Web sites comes amid political turmoil and social unrest. There have been renewed clashes between the army and religious Shiite groups in the north, and demonstrations organized by former army members in the south who demand political reforms.
The Committee to Protect Journalists interviewed Walid Al-Saqaf, founder of yemenportal.net, and reported that,
Al-Saqaf said he believes his site may have been blocked after it posted citizen videos of a January 13 protest in the southern port city of Aden. The videos show security forces firing unprovoked at the crowd, he said, in contradiction of the government’s account.