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You Heard the Verdict?

Living in the US I take a relatively uncensored internet for granted. It took me a while to figure out that the lists of proxies on the walls of internet cafes in Syria were to avoid censorship so that people could check dastardly anti-government websites like… yahoo mail (gasp!). There was a time when the only public internet in that country was at the national library and someone would sit next to you and write down every website you visited (the alternative was making a long distance phone call to an ISP in Lebanon). Today in many Arab countries if you go to a banned website you are given a polite notice that the site is against national customs and values. Reporters Without Boarders’ top “enemies of the internet” list includes many Arab countries, although in fairness it seems places like Sweden and Australia are becoming less free. Fortunately tools have been developed to track and monitor these efforts, such as Herdict. A website like Herdict derives its power from users reporting their experiences and aggregating that into neat little graphs and statistics. In an effort to expand its reach, Herdict is making an effort to roll out the site in other languages with Arabic being the first one. Yay. To get a quick feel for what the website is about, check out this great video about Herdict.

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