If the policy of blocking Internet access to web sites in Bahrain falls on the shoulders of the Ministry of Information, one which I had ample hope and aspiration of its restructuring to the better by the appointment of a new minister recently, I am sorely disappointed. Because had this been the case then one of the first orders of the new minister is to block access within Bahrain to the Haq Political Movement website, presumably due to whoever it is within government – and it could very well be higher than the aforementioned hapless ministry – “running out of patience” with those “rabble rousers”.
This brings the tracked blocked websites to 23 (see sidebar). I don’t know the real number of blocked sites as it could very well be higher. If anyone has access to the full list I would appreciate receiving it, even anonymously. In the pursuit of the truth, I would love to discern a pattern from what the government deems “offensive” websites and unearth some sort of order which might indicate what the government – or an influential enough person/body within it – has no tolerance for. Not that recognising an itch would actually produce a soothing scratch!
In the spirit of giving, as it is Eid after all, let me share with you once again how one might go around these various blocks and hopefully demonstrate to the powers that be that in this day and age and with the structure of the Internet, blocks on information does not actually work in the way they intend; unless of course their intention is to continue to sully the name of Bahrain in contrast to the very people of this fine country who have been diligently working to promote it.
- They can’t block TOR as it does not depend on a unique location, it is distributed and could be downloaded from thousands of sites. It’s a public and a not-for-profit project (yes, it’s free) and multi-platform.
- Download the latest version of TOR for your platform, the download and installation instructions are rather straightforward; just go to the TOR download page and grab your version. If it does get blocked in a vain attempt at grandeur, use any of the peer-to-peer file sharing tools and search for it. You’ll get it in no time.
- Once your package is downloaded, go ahead and install it by double-clicking the downloaded application and follow the instructions.
- Now go to the Firefox extensions page and install Torbutton.
- Restart Firefox.
Now you will notice a small onion in your status-bar. Provided that the Tor application is running in the background, whenever you want to view any blocked site on the Internet, simply click the onion and it will temporarily change your proxy settings in Firefox to enable you to circumvent the blocking mechanism. How it does this is rather simple and ingenious, you might want to read more information about the method used which is available on the Tor website.
I hope that the government wakes up to the fact that censorship only hurts itself and its fragile reputation nationally and internationally and that these draconian measures just do not have a place in this day and age.
This is not the way that things should be done, gentlemen. If one does not agree with another, a negotiation table is the best way forward, engagement, in other words, is much more conducive to solving our problems than having a childish foot-stomping-fist-thumping tantrum.