Syrian Government and Hezbullah Websites Hosted in Canada and the United States, New Citizen Lab Report Finds
TORONTO, Nov. 17, 2011 /CNW/ - A new Citizen Lab report, entitled The Canadian Connection: An investigation of Syrian government and Hezbullah web hosting in Canada, has found that websites of some ministries of the Syrian government, Syrian television station Addounia TV and Hezbullah media arm Al-Manar are being hosted on Canada-based web servers. As these three entities are all subject to Canadian sanctions, there are legal questions concerning the provision of web hosting services to these organizations.
This report continues Citizen Lab research into the intersection of the private sector, authoritarianism, and cyberspace regulation, turning our attention to a component of the Internet that does not typically receive the same amount of attention as filtering, surveillance, and computer network attack products and services: web hosting services.
Summary of main findings
- Websites of the Syrian government, including the Ministries of Culture,Transport, and others, are hosted on Canada-based web servers through intermediary companies, one of which, called "Platinum Incorporated," advertises that it has co-location servers in Canada.
- The Syrian TV station Addounia TV, which is sanctioned by Canada and the European Union for inciting violence against Syrian citizens, uses Canada-based web servers to host its website.
- The website for Al-Manar - the official media arm of the Lebanese political party, Hezbullah - is hosted on Canada- and US-based web servers and employs Canada-based web servers to stream its TV broadcast globally. Al-Manar satellite broadcasts have been banned by the US, France, Spain, and Germany as well as the European Union. The United States includes Al-Manar on its Specially Designated Nationals List, a list of entities with which U.S. persons are generally prohibited from dealing, and the assets of which are blocked. Canada currently classifies Hezbullah as a terrorist organization.
- There are legal questions concerning the provision of web hosting services to each of these organizations. As the Syrian government, Addounia TV, and Hezbullah are all subject to Canadian sanctions, services provided by Canada-based hosting providers to these entities may fall within the scope of the sanctions.
- Any consideration of the removal of an organization's website from web hosting services, however, must be treated as a potential infringement on freedom of speech and access to information, with due process and proper accountability mechanisms clearly articulated and followed.
Ron Deibert, Director of the Citizen Lab and Canada Centre for Global Security Studies, at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, remarks: "Our findings peel back the layers of a complex, highly nuanced, and often seamy world of web hosting. That Syrian government websites, including a Syrian state-backed television station known to be inciting violence, are hosted in Canada, is at minimum in contradiction to Canada's stated foreign policy and possibly material support to a regime that is now globally condemned for its repression and violence. We encourage governments, civil society, and the private sector to seriously consider how best to handle the expanding responsibilities of web hosting companies and how due process and proper accountability mechanisms can be normalized in ways that protect free speech and access to information, while avoiding support for human rights abuses and repressive regimes in ways that we document in this report."
The full report can be accessed here: http://citizenlab.org/canadian-connection
The Citizen Lab will be hosting a press conference:
Vivian and David Campbell Conference Facility
Munk School of Global Affairs
University of Toronto
1 Devonshire Place
Toronto, ON, M5S 3K7
Thursday, 17 November 2011
1:00 to 2:30 PM
Director of the Citizen Lab and Canada Centre for Global Security Studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto
|The press conference will also be available via streaming: http://hosting.epresence.tv/MUNK/1/live/196.aspx|
About the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies
The Canada Centre for Global Security Studies is an interdisciplinary unit at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto that engages in advanced research and policy development around global security issues including cyber security, global health, and region-specific concerns, such as the Arctic, Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, Asia, and the changing face of the Americas.
About the Citizen Lab
The Citizen Lab is an interdisciplinary laboratory based at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, Canada focusing on advanced research and development at the intersection of digital media, global security, and human rights. The Citizen Lab's ongoing research network includes the Information Warfare Monitor, the OpenNet Initiative, OpenNet Eurasia, and Opennet.Asia.
For further information:
Munk School of Global Affairs
University of Toronto