Joint Press Release
The Arab ICT Organization (IJMA3) and the Arab and Iraqi Internet Freedom Alliances
March 25, 2015
The Arab ICT Organization (IJMA3), the Arab Internet Freedom Alliance and the Iraqi Internet Freedom Alliance (Haqouna) collectively do not agree with the recent moves taken by the Iraqi government for monitoring and censorship of websites that the government claims to be linked to ISIS. The monitoring policies followed by the government conflict with the principles of the Arab Alliance of Internet Freedom. In particular, these moves violate the first and third principles of the Arab Internet Freedom Alliance which state “… every person should enjoy the same protection online, as offline, as this is a basic human right, as this is not negotiable under any circumstances” and “guaranteed and assuring internet access without service interruption, prohibiting, filtering, and promoting the exchange of information between individuals and communities’. The eleventh principle of internet freedom of the Iraqi Alliance stresses on ‘encouraging self- censorship and taking strict actions against ICT companies in case of engaging in commercial activities that affect the rights and freedoms in the field of use of the Internet’’
The Iraqi Ministry of Communications revealed on Monday the 16th of March that it had launched negotiations with specialized international digital companies to close the sites and accounts on social media which are related or promote the so-called "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS). The senior technical officer at the Ministry, Amir al-Bayati, said in a statement that "it is difficult to track, monitor and close the accounts of thousands of pages and sites related to terrorism."
We are waiting for a clear explanation from the Ministry of Communications and official stakeholders, and see the censorship of the sites as very worrying, since there is no clear implementation mechanism, and since the government recognizes that it cannot keep track of these sites. If this censorship and monitoring takes place, it would mean that once again the Iraqi authorities have the ability to block any site and suppress freedom under the name of "national security." How is blocking websites done without the presence of a clear legal mechanism? When will the government adopt the policy of awareness rather than a policy of repression?
IJMA3 (The Arab ICT Organization) is an international non-governmental non-profit organization established in 2004 and headquartered in Beirut, Lebanon and consists of a consortium of more than 19 national ICT association members from 15 countries across the MENA region. As the regional voice of the ICT industry, IJMA3 is dedicated to advocating policies that advance the industry's growth and development; facilitating international trade and investment in ICT products and services. www.ijma3.org
About the Arab Internet Freedom Alliance
The Arab Internet Freedom Alliance is a regional coalition formed by the member states Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, and Tunisia that met due to believing in the importance and vitality of Internet after its use has become closely associated with human rights, economic growth, and one of the essential human renewable knowledge and living needs. It acknowledges the necessity of establishing a legislating framework regarding organizing each country’s users’ dealing with the Internet, committing to the importance of protecting the internet users, without touching or derogation of any of their rights to access the service, and recognizing the right of some community segments to have special attention to access and make use of the Internet.
About the Iraqi Internet Freedom Alliance
The Iraqi Internet Freedom Alliance was established in Iraq and is a member of the Arab Internet Freedom Alliance. It consists of at least 5 members of each of the private stakeholders, civil society, and the ICT sector, and plays the role of the observer, in coordination and cooperation with national coalitions, in all that would be released from laws, regulations or decisions of practices that may be adopted which may limit access to the Internet freedom.