The Internet in the Middle East and North Africa: Free Expression and Censorship

The Internet dramatically empowers persons in the exercise of their right to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas regardless of frontiers. Online communication must therefore be fully protected by international guarantees of the right to freedom of expression. In the Middle East and North Africa, Internet use is growing rapidly after a slow start. Today, all countries except Libya, Iraq, and Syria allow the public to access the Internet through a local service provider. But in a region where nearly all governments abridge the right to freedom of  expression in significant ways, many have taken a cautious approach toward a medium that permits persons easily, inexpensively, and rapidly to exchange information in ways that elude state control.