Some Arab gov'ts accused of spying on Web users

Activists in Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia speak out over alleged surveillance

Tags: JordanMoroccoTunisia
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Some Arab gov'ts accused of spying on Web users Activists in Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia claim they have gathered information about government surveillance.
By  Courtney Trenwith Published  July 1, 2013

Internet users in several Arab states have claimed governments are spying on their online activities and at times sending threats in an attempt to avoid Arab Spring-style uprisings.

Activists in Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia spoke out during a recent online freedom conference, detailing their personal experiences and information they have gathered about government surveillance.

The revelations come less than a month after US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed the extent to which the US was monitoring online users' activities and storing their data.

Jordanian digital educator Reem Al-Masri said a world map indicating the US's overseas surveillance activities showed Jordan and Egypt were the third and fourth most targeted countries.

Al-Masri said the Jordanian government had increased its surveillance of online activities in a bid to avoid an uprising similar to those that toppled governments in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt.

"We don't know where the data's going," she said.

"We know we're speaking to a third party because we're being surveilled ... so we try not to cross the road lines in order not to be arrested or taken [in for] questioning.

"So we're adapting to the culture of surveillance."

Zineb Belmkaddem, from Moroccan democracy activist group Mamfakinch, claims she received a direct threat in an anonymous message sent to her Twitter account that contained information that could only have been obtained by monitoring her private communication on the micro blogging website.

"I received these '@ mentions' on Twitter from newly created accounts that were anonymous that would suggest that they knew some of my private information," Belmkaddem said.

"It was just a very subtle threat. Some of these are very aggressive and they take a toll on some of the activists."

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