A group of Tunisian cyber-activists and netizens decided to lodge a complaint against the Interior Ministry to reveal the identity of web censor “Ammar404”.
“Ammar404” is the nickname netizens gave to Internet surveillance and censorship during the regime of former President Zeine el-Abidin Ben Ali.
On January 13th 2011, Ben Ali fired announced the end of censorship practices, in a desperate attempt to silence a connected youth eager for freedom. Ever since, netizens in Tunisia have been enjoying a free and uncensored web access, despite filtering attempts targeting X-rated content, and criticism of the army. Though it is not new that the Tunisian Internet Agency hosted filtering and surveillance equipment, only very little is known about those who had been involved in giving filtering instructions.
Moez Chakchouk, the CEO of the Tunisian Internet Agency told Index on Censorship last February that the former ruling party, the Constitutional Democratic Party, (now dissolved), the presidential palace and the security apparatus “might have been involved” in giving censorship orders.
“This complaint aims at revealing the [identities of] the individuals or the parties used to issue [filtering] instructions and practice censorship, which deprived millions of Tunisians from their right to access information about their own country, and dissidents or activists from freely expressing themselves”, said Sofiane Chourabi a journalist and the initiator of the idea.
The group is now collecting signatures for a petition to be addressed to the State Prosecutor, and preparing the complaint’s necessary legal documents.
“It is the duty of a government that supposedly seeks to achieve the revolution’s goals to investigate into all oppression and corruption cases, including that of Internet censorship. Yet, it seems that this government is working on wiping out and marginalizing this issue, so that those who committed violations would not be held accountable” said Chourabi.