The al-Assad government in Syria appears to be responding to the use of ICTs by citizens unhappy with the political status quo more intelligently than its fallen counterpart in Egypt.
The Syrian government is cracking down on protesters’ use of social media and the Internet to promote their rebellion just three months after allowing citizens to have open access to Facebook and YouTube, according to Syrian activists and digital privacy experts.
Security officials are moving on multiple fronts — demanding dissidents turn over their Facebook passwords and switching off the 3G mobile network at times, sharply limiting the ability of dissidents to upload videos of protests to YouTube, according to several activists in Syria. And supporters of President Bashar al-Assad, calling themselves the Syrian Electronic Army, are using the same tools to try to discredit dissidents.
In contrast to the Mubarak government in Egypt, which tried to quash dissent by shutting down the country’s entire Internet, the Syrian government is taking a more strategic approach, turning off electricity and telephone service in neighborhoods with the most unrest, activists say.