Online Security in the Middle East and North Africa: A Survey of Perceptions, Knowledge and Practice

18 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2011

See all articles by Urs Gasser

Urs Gasser

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Rebekah Heacock Jones

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Robert Faris

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Hal Roberts

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Ethan Zuckerman

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Date Written: August 1, 2011

Abstract

Digital communication has become a more perilous activity, particularly for activists, political dissidents, and independent media. The recent surge in digital activism that has helped to shape the Arab spring has been met with stiff resistance by governments in the region intent on reducing the impact of digital organizing and independent media. No longer content with Internet filtering, many governments in the Middle East and around the world are using a variety of technological and offline strategies to go after online media and digital activists.

In this report we describe the results of a survey of 98 bloggers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) carried out in May 2011 in order to study bloggers’ perceptions of online risk and the actions they take to address digital communications security, including both Internet and cell phone use. The survey was implemented in the wake of the Arab spring and documents a proliferation of online security problems among the respondents. In the survey, we address the respondents’ perceptions of online risk, their knowledge of digital security practices, and their reported online security practices. The survey results indicate that there is much room for improving online security practices, even among this sample of respondents who are likely to have relatively high technical knowledge and experience.

Suggested Citation

Gasser, Urs and Heacock Jones, Rebekah and Faris, Robert and Roberts, Hal and Zuckerman, Ethan, Online Security in the Middle East and North Africa: A Survey of Perceptions, Knowledge and Practice (August 1, 2011). Berkman Center Research Publication No. 2011-04. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1942857

Urs Gasser (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: https://cyber.harvard.edu/people/ugasser

Rebekah Heacock Jones

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Robert Faris

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Hal Roberts

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/hroberts

Ethan Zuckerman

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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