Bahrain Internet censorship is considered by several Internet freedom lobbyists to be significant. Although restrictions are not as pervasive as in some countries, like China, Cuba and Vietnam, the monitoring and censorship of web content in this Middle Eastern nation can be quite prohibitive for Net users. The blocking of sites and monitoring of online information did not immediately take effect during the introduction of Internet in the country in 1995. Rather, the actions to regulate web content only started in April 2005, according to Reporters Without Borders organization. The regulation by the government demands that all websites talking about the country must register their information to the Ministry of Information.

 

However, the full effects of Bahrain Internet censorship were felt in the country only in October 2006, about 30 days before the legislative elections. Many believe that one of the reasons for the censorship was to ensure that no sentiments or information about the Bandargate political scandal, which implicated several government officials, would proliferate on the web. In fact, almost 20 online publications became suddenly inaccessible during this time.  In January 2009, an order from the new culture and information minister required all Internet service providers (ISPs) and telecommunications companies in the country to help the government in preventing access to web pages banned by the ministry. Moreover, the ministry has also ordered that ISPs should prevent any citizen from accessing blacklisted web pages through alternative servers.

 

Bahrain Internet censorship directives on what is acceptable (or not) can be blurry at best. However, based on accounts from people petitioning for the cancellation of online censorship in the country, most websites that promote the ideals of the Opposition are on top of the list of censored content. Some of the other blocked web pages are those that contain information regarding human rights and anti-government sentiments. Even live online personal journals (blogs) and participation in public forums are also banned. Other websites that are prohibited in Bahrain as well as in other Middle Eastern countries are those that promote hatred, gambling, and pornography.

 

Although ministry officials are trying to find ways to stop people who try to circumvent regulations by using proxy sites, there may still be other ways for you to access sites banned under Bahrain Internet censorship laws.

 

Many people in many parts of the world are able to avoid online content filtering through virtual private networks. So, it may be a good idea to learn how to use such networks. Click here for a VPN connection in order to bypass the bahrain proxy!