Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Back in the land of the blogged

So today is really special.
Today is my birthday.
Am back in Nairobi where it is comparatively warm and dry compared to the constant rains that were in Addis.
And today for the first time in ten days I actually have access to my blog!

No, haven’t been quiet because I have been shirking my responsibilities in terms of timely updating as some may be prone to think. The real fact of the matter is that I have not been able to access my blog while in Ethiopia. Access to my blog - and the others that I frequent - was just not possible.

It all started with the day I arrived – wanted to do my usual posts and eagerly logged in to do the deed. Waited and waited for the page to load – no luck. Thought it was a slow connection and tried a couple times more with the same result. Figuring it was a problem with my page – though couldn’t understand why that would be so - tried my other favorite links – same result. No access!

Changed tactics and tried to load from other angles - tried going in through a web search (and then accessing the link), and tried accessing it from Google's main blogger sign in page. No luck.

Got me wondering if there was a larger issue and not just my connection, googled to see and came across this article (see below) - guess that explains why I cannot have access.

The allegation is that Ethiopia has basically blocked access to Goggle's blogger service! The government has strongly denied this. Also found an article on Global Voices mentioning that sites with 'blogspot' in their URLs are routinely blocked. Was interesting to see the kinds of responses to this post, including by Ethiopians themselves. Quite varied views.

Been doing a bit of loose reading around the topic and it's interesting to see that such actions are not taken only by African governments - but similar cases have also been reported (though to a lesser extent) in developed countries. There is a book that came out earlier this year (Feb 2008) called Access Denied – that looks at this increasingly global phenomenon and how different governments have been using this. Needless to say my interest has been aroused - going to try and get a copy.

So just in case you are wondering why my blog has not been updated - this is the reason. Blocked? Technical difficulties? Hmmm, whichever way, it's just good to be back on-line.

Now off to catch up on all the posts from others that I have missed and of course to celebrate my birthday!

ADDIS ABABA, May 1 (Reuters) - An Internet watchdog on Tuesday accused Ethiopia of blocking scores of anti-government Web sites and millions of Weblogs in one of sub-Saharan Africa's biggest cases of cyber-censorship.

Web monitor, the OpenNet Initiative, said the Horn of Africa country was stopping citizens from viewing opposition-linked Web sites, and blogs hosted by Blogger, an online journal community owned by Internet search engine Google Inc.

Ethiopia dismissed the report as "a baseless allegation".

"We may have technical problems from time to time," Information Ministry spokesman Zemedkun Tekle. "But we have not done anything like that and we have no intention of doing anything like that."

The OpenNet Initiative -- a partnership between Harvard Law School, and universities of Toronto and Cambridge and Oxford -- said it had gathered proof of interference.

"We have run diagnostic tests using volunteers in Ethiopia which indicate that they are blocking IP addresses," OpenNet research director Robert Faris said, referring to the unique numeric addresses of Web sites.

"The evidence is overwhelming that that is what they are doing. ... Most of the sites that we found blocked were related to freedom of expression, human rights and political opposition," he said by telephone from the United States.

The allegations could be embarrassing for the Ethiopian government, which is a major ally of the United States in Africa and has been criticised for a post-election crackdown on opposition that killed nearly 200 people in 2005.

"I think it's a decision that makes the Ethiopian government look extremely hostile to free speech and to open political discourse," said Ethan Zuckerman, research fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society in the United States.


Nana Yaw Asiedu said...

Happy Birthday, Denise. And welcome back online. Will we be seeing a post or two in Amharic? ;-)

posekyere said...

High 5 to the birthday girl!

I sincerely wish you a joyful celebration of a milestone in your life.
May the lines fall into all the pleasant places for you and your loved ones!
Your explanation for not 'doing anything'with your blog has been accepted. Ethiopia is to blame period!
It surely must be exciting to be visiting all these beautiful places for work and play.
Wish I had a work like that.

Maya said...

It's so good to have you back! And happy birthday! Hope you have a wonderful day in Nairobi.

Denise said...

Thanks for the birthday wishes Nana Yaw. Needless to say my Amharic is rather limited, and no, no immediate plans on making it otherwise.

Denise said...

It's one of the blessings that I am grateful for Posekyere - a good job that make me meet interesting people and see different places. Something I shouldn't take for granted. One line falling into place I guess. Thanks too for your birthday wishes

Denise said...

Hi Maya, thanks for the birthday hail-up. Did have a great day in Nairobi, and an even better day when I got back. It's good to be back!