Thursday, November 04, 2010

The erosion of freedom of information

The perception is that Lebanon is one of the freest countries in the world when it comes to internet searching and blogging. In 2010 the press freedom index compiled by Reporters without Borders ranked Lebanon above every other country in the Arab world. However over the last year there have been a string of arrests, detentions and intimidation of Lebanese citizens for their online activities. For example in June of this year, four people were arrested for having posted comments on Facebook about Michel Suleiman, the President of Lebanon.

The President and the army are the most dangerous topics to talk about online. Under Lebanon’s penal code, defamation is a criminal offence.

The deterioration in internet freedom is reflected in the fact that some members of the Lebanese government tried (and failed) to pass a law governing electronic transactions. In effect it would have allowed for the warrantless arrest and seizure of citizens.

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