Ever since Mubarak pulled the internet kill switch in Egypt during the 2011 protests, digital emergencies have become more visible to the public. Yet, much digital targeting of human rights defenders, journalists, activists and bloggers goes unnoticed. They are being targeted by attacks that range from DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks on their websites, spying on their phone calls and email traffic, to the stealing of their laptops or mobile phones.
In more repressive countries, these attacks go hand in hand with physical harassment and arbitrary arrests. DDP is committed to assisting local groups in specific regions to mitigate their digital emergencies. It supports initiatives that are relevant to bloggers, journalists, human rights defenders and digital activists on the ground and seeks better understanding of the circumstances that they are operating in.
Therefore, at the beginning of 2013, the DDP commissioned a number of scouting missions by local experts in several regions to garner views from the street, map digital threats against bloggers, human rights defenders, journalists and activists, identify key actors and assess what the opportunities for cooperation and support are. The scouting missions focused on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and incorporated Egypt, Bahrain and Tunisia.
The scouting missions resulted in a series of reports containing information on each country. Each report comprises general information about the political and technological situation in the region and the specific country; a needs assessment of critical internet users; and reflection on the emerging threats to internet freedom and personal safety experienced by the target group. In addition, the reports include a description of the national context, local activism to protect rights online and recommendations.
It should be noted that the scouting missions were executed in 2013 and, therefore, the content of the reports reflects conditions in that period.
These reports are based on interviews with journalists, human rights defenders, activists and bloggers in the Middle East and North Africa. The content describes their reflections and personal opinions and cannot, therefore, be considered as factual information.