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At the same time, all of the countries surveyed in this report continue to block Web sites for their political content or for other arbitrary reasons, and all retain and misuse vaguely worded and sweeping legal provisions to imprison Internet users for expressing unpopular or critical views.The following sketch of conditions in the region shows the broader set of problems.Faced with this new technology, many regional governments have pursued contradictory policies.With varying degrees of enthusiasm, they have sought to facilitate the spread of information and communications technologies with economic benefits in mind.In Syria, the authorities censor information and correspondence with a free hand under the terms of emergency legislation promulgated more than forty years ago.
Eric Goldstein, a senior researcher in Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa Division, Hadi Ghaemi, Human Rights Watch's Iran researcher, Joe Stork, Washington advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch, Dinah Po Kempner, Human Rights Watch's general counsel, and Joe Saunders, Human Rights Watch's deputy program director, edited this report and contributed research.
At the same time, they have sought to maintain their old monopolies over the flow of information.
In a Tunisian Internet café, not far from where the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society is being held in November 2005, there hangs a portrait of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
In 2004, the Iranian judiciary, relying on extralegal intelligence and security forces, began to target online journalists and bloggers in an effort to control this flourishing new medium.
Iranian Web sites nevertheless continue to express opinions that the country's newspapers and other media would never run.