Netsweeper, a Canadian company, has offered to provide the Bahraini government with internet censorship technology. In exchange for $1,175,000, the company will supply the Bahraini government with a “national website filtering solution.” Netsweeper has been involved in a number of questionable partnerships in recent years. Last year, researchers criticized the company for providing the Houthi rebels in Yemen with censorship technology. Researchers at a digital watchdog in Toronto stated the rebels used the technology to make a “concerted effort to shape the information environment in the country.” Netsweeper was also accused of “providing the Pakistani government with similar technology” in 2013.
The agreement with Netsweeper is another facet of the Bahraini government’s ongoing suppression of dissent and freedom of speech. Since the demonstrations sparked by Saudi Arabia’s execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, Bahraini authorities are facing ongoing discontent and unrest both in the streets, and online. Security forces continue to target online activists and journalists, most recently arresting journalist Mahmoud al-Jazeeri. Reporters Without Borders has called for his immediate release, saying “journalists cannot be treated as terrorists just for criticizing the government in their reporting. Security grounds cannot justify violations of freedom of information.”
Tyler Pry is an Advocacy Intern at ADHRB
Photo courtesy of Reuters