American Web Hosts Help Shut Down Websites Following Syrian Internet Outage

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Following the Syrian Internet blackout Thursday, American web hosting providers have been shutting down official Syrian websites after being warned by a human rights organization that they were in breach of US sanctions on the country, according to a report by The New York Times.

Web monitoring companies such as Akamai released data Thursday confirming that the Syrian Internet outage left just 8 percent of networks accessible to Syrian civilians.

The Internet blackout is seen by many as an attempt by the Syrian government to keep rebel propaganda and negative news out of sight.

Toronto-based research labratory Citizen Lab highlighted three websites belonging to the Syrian government that are being hosted by web hosting companies based in Texas, Florida, and Denver, as well as some websites hosted by British and Canadian web hosting providers.

An executive order by President Obama restricts American companies from providing any services, web hosting or otherwise, to Syria without first acquiring a license from the US Treasury Department.

However, many of these American hosting providers sell their hosting services, completely unknowingly, to websites operated by the Syrian government.

Meanwhile, the US State Department has been providing tips to Syrian rebels advice on how to bypass the Internet outage and provide them with mobile communication equipment.

State Department officials reaffirmed the President’s executive order on Thursday by stating that any American company providing hosting services to Syria is violating US sanctions.

“Our policies are designed to assist ordinary citizens who are exercising their fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly and association,” said Mark C. Toner, a spokesperson for the┬áState Department.

Talk back: Is your hosting business hosting any websites belonging to the Syrian government following the Syria Internet outage? Do you think this restriction of hosting any Syrian websites is fair? Let us know in the comments.

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  1. Sounds like censorship to me! So much for free speech in the US.

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