Tunisian Internet Agency defends net neutrality

Online censorship is futile as it can almost always be circumvented, says Moez Chakchouk, the head of the Tunisian Internet Agency.

Moez Chakchouk, the head of the Tunisian Internet Agency, speaks to Free Speech Debate about the ethos of transparency and neutrality that he has advocated since taking up in the post in early 2011. When the military court demanded that the agency block five Facebook pages for “inciting violence” in mid-2011, Chakchouk says he posted details online for all to see. The agency is currently locked in a legal battle to prevent access to pornographic content from being blocked. Chakchouk explains that online censorship is futile as it can almost always be circumvented. “It’s not a matter of pornography … it’s not a matter of the content but we want to be neutral,” he says. The agency has also created a mirror of the Tor website, which allows netizens to communicate anonymously on the internet. However, Chakchouk says that while it would be in the public interest to reveal the names of the companies that used Tunisia as a testing ground for the development of censorship software under the Ben Ali regime, he is bound to silence by confidentiality agreements that are still in place.

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Free Speech Debate is a research project of the Dahrendorf Programme for the Study of Freedom at St Antony's College in the University of Oxford. www.freespeechdebate.ox.ac.uk

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