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Bahrain’s own ‘confusion and chaos’ over BlackBerry ban
A government that insists on obstructing and controlling the flow of information faces a losing battle against ever-democratizing new technology.
April 13, 2010 5:56 by kippreport
Bahrain’s culture and information ministry last week announced a ban on the sharing of local news via BlackBerry, an activity that apparently requires an official license. This is aimed at avoiding “confusion and chaos”, according to official statements carried by the Bahrain News agency.
One of the first things to go was the “Breaking News” service started by Bahraini journalist Muhannad Sulaiman. More than 13,000 subscribers have been deprived of the daily feed, which included a 6am summary of the front pages of local newspapers.
“I am sorry about the inconvenience,” Sulaiman reportedly wrote in a message to subscribers. “But as you do know, it is well beyond my capabilities”. And that’s about right: anyone who opposes the ban could face jail time.
It’s hard to see how banning the sharing of news via BlackBerry will prevent “confusion and chaos”. Mobile phones, new online services and the internet itself are all by their very nature slightly chaotic, but most people have woken up to the benefits, too. Going on its own reasoning, perhaps Bahrain should ban the entire internet?
A government that insists on obstructing and controlling the flow of information faces a losing battle against ever-democratizing new technology. Monitoring communications (remember Etisalat’s infamous BlackBerry ‘spyware’ patch?) and restricting the sharing of information can only lead to more ‘confusion and chaos’.